Grengine powers the planet with clean energy solutions
By SOHAIL KAMAL, EP&T WEST COAST CORRESPONDENTElectronics Power Supply / Management Environmental Alberta clean-energy Editor Pick enviro environmental Grengine off-grid power
In the expanse of Alberta’s prairies, a clean energy revolution is gaining momentum. Grengine, an Alberta-based clean energy company, is providing off-grid power for electrical appliances, tools, games, and recreation. The firm is also providing a cutting-edge energy storage solutions for a variety of applications, from remote communities and temporary worksites to the military and commercial organizations.
With an impressive growth history over the past two years and a strong commitment to solving global energy poverty, Grengine is poised to make a significant impact on the renewable energy sector. West Tech Report recently had the opportunity to chat with the new CEO, Erin Rand, of Grengine, about how Alberta is shifting to green energy, how the current battery industry is flawed and why Grengine’s customers are leapfrogging up the path to ethical energy.
Playing to Alberta’s strengths
Grengine was founded on the belief that clean energy can and should be accessible to all, and it has helped to have been situated in Alberta. As Alberta’s energy landscape shifts from oil & gas to clean technologies, Grengine is capitalizing on the province’s abundance of resources, skilled workforce, and forward-thinking attitudes: “The attitudes in Alberta opened up immensely in the last few years. After decades of oil & gas dominating the conversations, people at every level in Alberta are talking about what new technologies … Just ask the CEO of Edmonton Unlimited, Catherine Warren, or the CEO of Edmonton Global, Malcolm Bruce, the conversations in every hallway are about Alberta’s world leading clean energy technologies,” says Rand.
In the past two years, Grengine has evolved from being a startup to establishing as a scaling company. They have hired talented new team members, including new CEO Erin Rand, and expanded their reach into remote industrial sites and communities in North America. Their patented modular energy storage system is designed to be simple, fast, and cost-effective, making it an ideal alternative to diesel generators in remote locations.
“Our greatest strength lies in our ability to replace diesel generators, particularly for remote communities and temporary worksites. In the past, getting renewable solutions to these communities and worksites has been impractical and cost prohibitive,” explains Rand. “Months of engineering, shipping of equipment, specialized technicians, electricians, and engineers required for setup, and ongoing support onhand in case something should go wrong – taking too long and costing too much for a worksite that may only exist for 12 months.” With Grengine’s plug-and-play technology, facilities can be set up to provide gigawatts of energy with little technical assistance.
Current system flaws
The Grengine Power System addresses both the need for clean energy and the global issue of energy hunger, particularly in remote communities. A big part of the cost and environmental impact of battery products comes from the logistics of moving components and finished goods all over the world.
“Lithium mined in South America, shipped to Asia for refinement, then shipped to another location for battery component product, then shipped to manufacture cells, then shipped … to manufacture battery packs then shipped to a turnkey solutions company then finally shipped to a customer in Africa…,” laments Rand. “Which is, of course, followed by specialized technicians, electricians, and engineers traveling to and from Africa to install the system. Ouch! It is easy to see why battery systems can cost a lot and have a big carbon footprint.”
By providing a clean energy alternative to diesel generators, Grengine is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of people in remote areas, And using robotic production equipment allows them to maintain consistency while largely using a local workforce which has multiple impacts as explained by Rand: “The carbon footprint reduction is dramatic and ultimately lowers the cost of the products while simultaneously creating jobs and economic growth in the regions where our customers live. This is a path that leads to ethical energy.”
Grengine is also committed to continually refining its processes and learning from past challenges. One valuable lesson they learned was the importance of trusting their instincts when it came to outsourcing. “They told us, ‘design it, but let someone else build it’. Ultimately that path slowed us down and cost us in loss of IP. Thankfully, I made the decision to start bringing manufacturing back in house and back to Canada in 2019,” Says Rand.
This decision not only allowed them to better protect their intellectual property but also positioned them well for the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Grengine continues to grow and innovate, the company is setting an example for other clean energy companies.
To learn more, go to grengine.com
Sohail Kamal is EP&T’s West Coast correspondent.