A Colombian Startup about Renewable Energy

Cycle System

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Overview

This innovation is about the generation and consumption of energy that allows the user to transact electricity with its peers in the community, registering the transactions using blockchain.

This powerful, low-cost agent is intended as the contact point that will permit us to make our platform more human.

Authors

Sandra Mikan

Sandra Mikan

Luisa Maria Yepes Gongora

Luisa Maria Yepes Gongora

Ana Carolina Hernández Roncancio

Ana Carolina Hernández Roncancio

School

Universidad Externado de Colombia

Universidad Externado de Colombia

Professor

Gustavo A Yepes López

Gustavo A Yepes López

Innovation

Cycle System seeks to decentralize the access to energy in the population where this service is not covered. Initially, the venture was focused on cities that already had access to energy, with the aim of helping them to make their renewable systems profitable; later, they began to think about working to benefit the isolated communities. In this sense, this project aims to attack the problem of access to energy, being an alternative source of income for communities that are beginning to have contact with renewable energy.

As Luis Marín said: "Cycle is based on the concept of microgrids; that means that if we have 10 people who have solar panels installed, let's unite them and create a microgrid, an energy community, so that all the benefits, that we have mentioned before, can be seen: social, environmental, and technical."

How does this work?

A device is installed in each house of the community: it collects information on production and consumption of energy, which allows a more efficient relationship between these two variables, generating excess of the resource. In this way, Cycle’s platform knows who has energy and who needs it and allows the exchange to take place. The person providing the energy immediately receives monetary compensation in the form of a digital currency, so that it can be exchanged for energy when necessary, or for goods and services. For this purpose, they use fourth-generation technology:

  1. Internet of things (IoT): To create an intelligent network among the community that is able to access the system and to collect data.
  2. Artificial intelligence: Used to process all the information and in this way generate efficiencies and stimulate surpluses of energy.
  3. Blockchain: Allows traceability, secure transactions, and generation of digital currency.

Furthermore, the business model consists of three sources of income:

  1. Sale of the smart device – Licenses.
  2. Commission for each transaction.
  3. Sale of processed information for the actors of the energy market.

Nicolas Cuadrado and David Castaño, friends from school, had previously worked on other projects before, most of them based on technology and aimed at the Colombian market.

They decided to undertake one more, not only aiming at the Colombian market, but with an impact in the global market. In that search came the opportunity of an international hackathon sponsored by IBM, where they were challenged to seek innovative solutions.

Challenged to think bigger, they started thinking about futuristic solutions supported by fourth-generation technologies. They used a methodology to select the idea that had the most relation with their skills, with more positive impact, and that seemed more interesting.

According to David Castaño, “We (Cycle) are a for-profit company because we need to be sustainable; [since] our main objective or purpose is to help or contribute to the society and the environment, we need to grow a lot because the problem is huge; the people and planet are counting on us.”

A Colombian Startup about Renewable Energy

Cycle System: Key features

Inspiration

As they brainstormed, they put together very futuristic ideas, like space travel, teleportation, dream recording, or a source of inexhaustible energy. They also put into the mix disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, Blockchain, drones, and the Internet of Things, among others. Besides, they took into account the positive impact they wanted to achieve. All that process ended in three top ideas where the one selected, unanimously, was Cycle; a platform to give access to energy, stimulating and monetizing renewable sources by leveraging a digital market.

They were inspired by the challenge to think bigger, to challenge themselves to develop a solution that really could have a positive impact in the world and leave a legacy.

Overall impact

The impact of the innovation on the enterprise was to "develop the concept of energy communities, which has not yet been implemented or developed" (David Arevalo). In this way, Cycle will make it possible for isolated populations to organize themselves to manage their own energy, optimizing consumption, generating efficiency, and taking advantage of resources to make a profit out of their renewable systems.

According to Nicolas Cuadrado, regarding the issue of lack of access to energy, the solutions are very limited; "they give you some light bulbs and allow you to charge your phone, but that does not guarantee development (…) and what they need is something more robust. We believe Cycle could be a vehicle of development from the inside out.”

In addition, for Kevin Gutiérrez, Cycle has as its purpose “a change of paradigm; we were born believing that energy comes to our house. It is to understand that energy can be profitable. We are used to paying and others are used to not having it, but nobody is used to earning money from it.

Impact of the innovation on the environment:

The stimulation of adoption of renewable energy sources allows the reduction of polluting emissions, the sustainability of the sources, and the reduction of gray energy dependence and the possibility of moving towards more sustainable energy market.

Short-term effects:

The proof-of-concept is already generating clean energy in the building where they have their office and in a farm near their city. That means that the system does not use dirty energy on a daily basis and is helping the building to use more efficiently the energy they consume from the grid.

Long-term effects:

  • Thousands of tons of CO2 not released to the atmosphere.
  • Empowerment of entire communities.
  • Hundreds of megawatts of renewable capacity installed.
  • Millions of dollars in energy transactions that remain among the communities.

Concrete evidence of the impact:

  • More than 500 kWh of clean energy produced or not consumed from gray sources (traditional grid).
  • Open-source knowledge created and shared on energy technology communities.

Business benefit

Cycle is investing in research and development to have a reliable technology that for sure is going to be widely adopted all around the world in the coming years. They see themselves as the leading company in access to energy and microgrids that allows a better quality of life for people who are not connected to a traditional network to receive access to renewable energy. For this purpose, their strategy is about looking for allies and not competing.

Meanwhile, Luis Marín noted: “We want to motivate, encourage the use of renewable and distributed generation. There are communities that, given the cost of diesel, had energy one hour or four hours per day, but already with the incorporation of renewable energy such as solar panels, they can already have access to energy 24 hours a day.”

Social and environmental benefit

David Arevalo noted that, “If the community is isolated and already has access to energy, the first benefit is that they will take advantage of all the generation potential, (…) which comes from decentralized sources and means that you have your panel and your battery and, if you go to work and your battery is already charged, your panel can still generate resources that can be sold among the community”. Moreover, Arevalo added that, “The community starts to have a market that did not have before: an energy market that allows selling energy to its neighbors, then it is money that remains among the community (energy can be profitable).”

Interview

David Castaño – CEO; Nicolás Cuadrado – Co-Founder and CTO; Kevin Felipe Gutiérrez – CCO; Álvaro David Arévalo – Infraestructure Director; Luis Marín – Computational Intelligence Director; Christian Robayo - Embedded Systems Director., CEO

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Cycle System

Cycle System

Bogotá, Bogotá, CO

Business Website: cyclesystem.org

Year Founded: 2017

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

This innovation is about the generation and consumption of energy that allows the user to transact electricity with its peers in the community, registering the transactions using blockchain. This powerful, low-cost agent is intended as the contact point that will permit us to make our platform more human.