Electrion is a startup founded by four Ohio State engineering students who want to create a zero-emission option for portable power.

Anita Nti, CEO of Electrion, says that while portable power isn’t a new concept, the company wants to make it convenient and affordable for people looking for a zero-emission option for their portable power. 

“Sure, today you can go buy a portable battery pack off-the-shelf, but most people will still turn to the gas generator because of the high cost of batteries, which cost three to five times more than an equivalent gas generator,” said Nti. “Our Energy Storage-as-a-Service (ESaaS) model is designed to accelerate the adoption of portable clean energy through a short-term rental model available in our app.”

Electrion is also focusing on second life automotive batteries through a partnership with Honda to repurpose batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) for smaller mobile energy applications. “Not only are we extending the life of these batteries, but we are reducing our waste by avoiding purchasing new batteries. It truly is a win-win for sustainability,” added Nti.

The new company, with an early round of funding from MegaJoule Ventures, has a variety of prototypes for release in Q1, 2021. They have partnered with the Columbus North chapter of ​FIT4MOM to add a small portable pack with a heating pad to fit into strollers to keep kids warm during a workout stroll.MORE FOR YOUGarmin Lily Is A Fitness Tracking Smartwatch Made For WomenHow The Biden Administration Plans To Expand BroadbandApple’s Biggest Quarter Ever: All The Key Numbers

The startup is working with CampusParc and the Department of Transportation and Traffic Management at Ohio State University on several pilot initiatives, including providing power to variable message boards for traffic management and Covid-19 testing/vaccination sites.

Each Electrion portable power pack has cloud connectivity with the ability to provide real-time data.

“Through our app, people can order battery packs and view their total energy consumption, the amount of emissions they have averted, and also receive tips that help them be more sustainable,” added Nti.

Nti says that because sustainability is their top priority, the company delivers portable packs using environmentally-friendly electric cargo bikes. “The overall goal is to show how easy and convenient clean energy and being sustainable can be,” said Nti.

Pandemics and portable energy

With the world living through the Covid-19 pandemic for most of 2020, Glenn Jakins, CEO of Humless, believes that portable energy provides a sense of security.

“I think people have realized that things can change quickly. They’re not as certain as they were before, and they have realized that it’s wise to have a little bit of backup power in case of an emergency,” said Jakins. “The way our lives are now, there’s no getting away from the fact that we need electricity; we need power.”

Jakins says that having a small portable energy system means you have power at your fingertips when you need it. “You can keep your phone and computer charged at any time and feel secure in the knowledge that you will be able to do what you need to do,” said Jakins.

“On a larger scale, people are working from anywhere now. More and more people are using that freedom to live completely off the grid in vans, in tiny houses, and because these portable power systems exist, they can do that and still be connected in all the ways that matter,” added Jakins.

Energy storage trends

Research firm Technavio predicts that the residential solar energy storage market will grow by $26.59 billion from 2020 through 2024.

Jakins believes there will be four energy story trends we can expect to see in 2021: the expansion of storage on existing solar-powered homes, battery storage on multiple family dwelling units, electric vehicle charging; and, making more efficient batteries with longer life spans.

Jakins points to California’s new mandate that all new buildings need to have solar panels in 2021.

“As part of that mandate, we’re seeing multi-family dwelling units get battery backup, something that hasn’t been a priority for landlords to this point,” said Jakins. “This has caused a huge upswing in residential installations in general, and a surge in commercial containerized solutions as well.”

“With containerized battery storage, instead of installing just a 20 kilowatts system, we can put 1.5 megawatts of storage together and install that as a central energy storage solution,” added Jakins.

For Electrion, the bigger picture is how people view portable energy storage.

“In remote regions of the world, big companies will deploy stationary units, on the order of megawatt or gigawatt-hour of energy, to power towns and villages,” said Nti. “While this is a much-needed service for those with limited access to power, we believe there is an opportunity to not only shift our focus to the small-to-intermediate scale but also change the way we think about delivering energy.”

“By providing a rapidly deployable unit, Electrion empowers people to utilize the energy in a way that meets their needs. The large scale efforts cannot be overlooked, but we believe it’s the little things that add up to make a great impact,” added Nti.