Location: North Kohala, Hawaii
Gen-X Energy Development is a Hawaii-based renewable energy firm founded by Fred Brown and Leo Caires. Since 2009, Gen-X has been involved in the development of projects throughout the Pacific Rim with a focus on wind, solar, micro-grid and off-grid power. With the help of Energy Excelerator, a startup program dedicated to solving the world’s energy challenges, and an $897,000 grant from the US Department of Energy, Gen-X successfully spun-off into off-grid power with SkyGrid Energy in 2013.
Until recently, farmers in remote locations and island communities have relied on polluting diesel fuel to generate electricity. Energy costs are high, and farmers have had no choice but to depend on foreign oil for farm irrigation and pumping systems. In order to solve these problems, SkyGrid Energy’s microgrid was designed to help farmers irrigate land and provide potable water for livestock where grid connections are not available. Leo Caires explains; “One of the exciting aspects of our project is it really addresses problems faced in remote locations and that is bringing a new sense of freedom that we can now deliver energy into locations that normally would not be able to have access to infrastructure or electricity power.”
The system is comprised of the NPS 100 wind turbine, a battery bank, and an inverter. It is capable of pumping more than 30 million gallons of water annually and is being used to irrigate 400 acres of agricultural land and support 14 participating farms and agricultural businesses. SkyGrid Energy’s microgrid will allow community members to participate in Hawaii’s robust agricultural sector, growing crops such as coffee, macadamia nuts and avocados. It can also be deployed in remote locations that lack grid infrastructure or help take large non-critical and critical loads offline using clean energy sources such as wind, sun, or water. Fittingly, the turbine of North Kohala is a symbol of what the entire community is really all about—sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint, and reducing their reliance on foreign oil.
Environmental impact: Efficient energy use, improved access to water for irrigation & avoided use of fossil fuels, including avoided emission of GHGs and harmful substances
Measurement: SkyGrid Energy
Looking to discover more impact ventures? Join us at www.groundupproject.net