Efficiently harnessing the power of the sun at scale is a tall task, but somebody’s gotta do it.
Hundreds of different companies around the world are tackling the various challenges around making solar a viable, affordable, and accessible alternative to conventional energy sources. This includes several in British Columbia, where pushes for clean energy have spurred innovation in solar technology.
From Victoria to Burnaby and beyond, we highlight a handful of BC startups advancing the solar space in their own way.
Solar Earth Technologies & Nexii
Nexii Building Solutions this year signalled intent to acquire Solar Earth, bringing two Canadian companies together to support the transition of the built environment toward a net-zero future. Nexii intends to acquire Solar Earth following a $45 million venture capital round.
Solar Earth manufactures hardened solar power panels that transform sidewalks, parking lots, and other elements of everyday infrastructure into a source of solar energy. Nexii designs and manufactures low-carbon buildings.
“With our shared vision to create a net zero future and by combining our technologies, we believe we have the opportunity to make net positive energy buildings a reality,” Stephen Sidwell, CEO and co-founder of Nexi, stated in July.
Solar Earth has several live projects globally, with installations at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and Daxing Green Village in Beijing, China. The company has more than 50 projects in development.
“Our mission is to help create a net zero future for our cities and communities, and fight climate change by transforming everyday infrastructure into a source of solar energy to replace fossil fuels,” said Douglas Matthews, CEO and director of Solar Earth.
CIX Canadian Innovation Exchange announced the top companies for their 2022 program recently and while the Top 10 Growth Stage company list did not include any B.C.-based companies, the list of CIX Top 20 Early Stage companies included Victoria-based Solaires Enterprises.
Solaires is focused on developing the next generation of solar cells by replacing silicon with perovskite through an innovative and sustainable manufacturing process resulting in affordable solar photovoltaics with higher energy conversion efficiency and higher stability.
Solaires’ business model includes the sale of their product, Solar Ink, and the licensing of their perovskite solar cell technology manufacturing process to selected roll-to-roll coaters, solar cell manufacturers, and OEMs.
Solaires was also a finalist this year for the Rising Star Award, which is presented at the BC Cleantech Awards to an emerging cleantech company making things happen.
Hedgehog Technologies is an electrical engineering consulting firm that works on innovative projects, including solar arrays in extreme climates.
Burnaby-based Hedgehog has developed a system called the Nimba Microgrid Controller Solution to intelligently manage and optimize microgrid-powered communities—a push forward in microgrid technology that extends the life of assets, lowers energy costs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of our earliest projects involved microgrids and now we are witnessing more widespread applications for this technology,” Dr. Michael Wrinch, founder of Hedgehog, stated in October. “Nimba is designed to make energy management accessible for remote communities that are not connected to a main power grid.”
Recently Hedgehog received an Award of Excellence and an additional special award called Engineering a Better Canada by the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards for work on a project for remote Indigenous community called the Fort Severn First Nation. The FSFN completed a 300-kW solar array to offset the remote community’s energy demand.
Earlier this year Hedgehog acquired Igloo Innovations, a mechanical engineering firm with creative and technical capabilities.