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Find out how our unique program helps cleantech startups bridge the “valley of death.

Social Impact and Energy Equity

Each CalSEED awardee is carefully selected based upon their innovations ability to improve both social impact and energy equity for Californians.

What is Social Impact and Energy Equity?

Social impact and energy equity relate to clean energy development and deployment differently. Energy technologies have a social impact when they positively benefit everyone. Energy equity outcomes are social benefits of clean energy solutions that are targeted specifically for low-income and historically marginalized communities. In addition to ensuring that each innovation funded by CalSEED will have social impact when it is scaled, the CalSEED team is committed to leveling the playing field and ensuring that frontline communities and those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change won’t continue to bear the brunt of the social, economic, and environmental burdens.

Social Impact

CalSEED defines social impact as outcomes of innovations that benefit all California electricity ratepayers through the 3 categories defined by the CEC’s EPIC program

  1. Increasing the electrical grid reliability
  2. Increasing the electrical grid’s safety
  3. Lowering electricity costs

To be selected for a CalSEED award applicants must be able to identify how, when scaled, the proposed technology positively impacts at least one of EPIC’s ratepayer benefit categories. CalSEED understands that many early-stage innovations will not deliver meaningful ratepayer benefits in the immediate future, therefore it is vitally important to include a discussion of the potential long-term impacts of your proposed technology.

Our Impact

$5.6M

In funding for Women led startups

$3.7M

Awarded to Projects in Disadvantaged Communities in California

43

Companies with women and/or minorities in C-suite positions

Ratepayer Benefits

Below are three CalSEED companies that demonstrate ratepayer benefits in grid reliability, grid safety, and reduced electricity costs

Grid Reliability 

  • Gridware is a wildfire prevention technology company that has developed a real-time grid monitoring system of sensors that can monitor poles, conductors and equipment on the electricity distribution grid to predict where they may fail and ignite a wildfire. They are able to increase grid reliability by reducing the total duration of interruptions and outage restoration time. Examples of Gridware’s ratepayer benefit include: 
    • At 10% market adoption, Gridware projected a reduction in System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) caused by Gridware Technology deployment to be 16 minutes per year
    • Reduction in Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI) caused by Gridware Technology deployment to be 11 minutes per year.
    • Commercialization timeline of 1-2 years, the team projects $560M in avoided economic damage annually.

 

Grid Safety

  • Antora Energy is increasing grid safety with their innovative high-efficiency thermal-to-electricity converters based on solar cells that will enable ultra-low-cost electricity storage and low-cost, high efficiency industrial waste heat recovery. Examples of Antora Energy’s ratepayer benefit include:
    • Commercialization timeline for their technology is ~3 years and after 10% market adoption, the team projects an energy savings of 470 GWh per year. 
    • Technology could displace the need for traditional “peaker” plants and result in peak power reduction of 1.2M kW per year, and the Operations & Maintenance savings typical of the gas plants this system would replace is projected to be $35M per year (also after 10% market adoption).

Reducing Electricity Costs

  • Stasis Group is developing a Stasis Thermal Energy Storage System that uses phase change materials to keep buildings cool without using air conditioning during late-in-the-day high peak demand charge periods that occur along with expensive peak pricing, ultimately reducing electricity costs. Examples of Stasis Group’s ratepayer benefits include:
    • During the CalSEED Concept Award, Stasis Group built and tested a prototype of the system, advancing this technology from a TRL of 2 to 6.
    • At a 1% market adoption, the team projects this system will save CA rate-payers 26,400 kW per year, more than 4,000,000 kWh per year and will save almost $7 million in demand charges annually.

Energy Equity

California is recognized as a leader in progressive clean energy and climate policies as well as technology innovation, yet many communities still lack access to clean energy resources. As California continues to transition to clean energy, it is essential that solutions address the needs and interests of the state’s most underserved and disadvantaged populations. CalSEED is committed to ensuring that energy equity is built into the foundation of how ideas are conceived, products are designed and companies are run.

Equity-In, Equity-Out Framework

Equity-in: attract a diverse pool of applicants

We actively seek diverse communities across California to fully participate in the development and implementation of clean energy solutions through inclusive outreach to encourage applicants from businesses and communities that are women-owned businesses, diverse-owned businesses, low-income, racially diverse, LGBTQAI+, rural, and veterans. We also drive equity into our programs by having:

  • Impartial selection process 
  • Impact and equity award selection criteria
  • Balanced award distribution throughout the state to ensure geographic diversity

Equity-out: encourage equitable energy solutions

Disadvantaged communities need clean energy investments that create healthier environments and reduce the cost of basic necessities. CalSEED encourages entrepreneurs to develop equitable energy solutions that positively impact our most vulnerable populations. We support and coach entrepreneurs to:

  • DEVELOP innovations that can improve environmental, health and economic conditions in disadvantaged communities
  • PROMOTE diversity, equity and inclusion practices into their growing companies and teams
  • ENCOURAGE early-on relationship-building and partnership with community-based organizations and inclusive businesses.

Examples of Our Equity-Out Strategy Include:

Innovations that are leading with energy equity are those that:

  • Respond to a clean energy, energy efficiency, or energy storage needs within underserved and low-income communities
  • Prioritize community-owned and operated clean energy project
  • Create health benefits and economic opportunities in underserved and heavily polluted communities
  • Include meaningful community engagement with underserved and low-income communities throughout the development of the project

The following CalSEED companies are exemplifying energy equity with their innovations:

Nativus

  • Nativus has developed a hyper efficient, easy-to-install, lightweight air conditioning unit that has the potential to decrease power consumption by 67% compared to current air conditioning (AC) units – lowering ratepayers utility bills and dramatically lowering CO2 emissions. As global temperatures rise, it is predicted that over the next 30 years 2.5B AC units will be purchased. Because the unit is lightweight and easy to install, Nativus’ innovation will be easier for the elderly, renters and disabled populations to use, increasing access to clean energy technologies within demographics that need affordable energy and air conditioning the most. 
—Kevin Kung, Founder and CTO, Takachar
"CalSEED has been instrumental in advancing our marketing and technical goals in California, and in doing so, discovering new partners through its networks and events.”
——Kevin Kung, Founder and CTO, Takachar

Awardee Directory

Explore the 118 entrepreneurs from around California that the CalSEED program has supported.

Learn more 

Know before you apply

If CalSEED funding seems right for you, check out the contractual terms and conditions. Reading them is not only in your best interest but will provide you with important information on what is required of you by signing this contract. Seriously, go read it. Don’t apply before reading!

Terms & Conditions

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