Solar Power for All

YouSolar

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action

Overview

The PowerBloc is YouSolar’s main product; however several components of this device factor into the definition of forward-thinking innovation. First and foremost is their patented micro converter that connects to any brand of solar panel, and converts power more efficiently than previous models, and is more lightweight allowing for easy transportation. Because it connects with each panel individually, there is no need for a standard array display. One can choose their layout in whatever manner they wish. The PowerBloc itself is a plug and play model that can power small electrical uses such as blender or vacuums, in addition to items that require larger portions of power, such as electric cars and household utilities like heat. Because it can be used to store excess energy from these panels, the PowerBloc is mostly used as a replacement to diesel generators and is looking for footholds in markets of countries where power outages are common and are paying for temporary energy at an expensive rate. However, it is also utilized as a battery that doles out incremental levels of energy. Although the initial price of the SolarBloc setup is costlier than most generators, the cost per kilowatt-hour is nearly half the price (diesel: 50-75 cents, Solar PowerBloc: 20-25 cents) and makes a very sound business case for itself as an investment in renewable energy.

Authors

Katherine Valencic

Katherine Valencic

Arielle ahmed

Arielle ahmed

william trombley

william trombley

Bruce Gay

Bruce Gay

School

The University of Toledo

The University of Toledo

Professor

Gary Insch

Gary Insch

Innovation

Their main product is called the PowerBloc. The PowerBloc is a series of solar-powered batteries, a solar array manager, and an inverter that is customizable to independently power any home or business. This allows the PowerBloc to be arranged to fit anyone’s needs and fit anywhere. There are micro converters connected to each solar panel that generates up to 380 volts of direct current per panel. Similar to the customization of the batteries, the micro converters, and solar panels are customizable to meet the full needs of the customer by adding as many or as few panels required. The system comes with a tablet that collects data on energy usage as well as utilizing satellites to monitor forecasts and predict outages to ensure no energy is wasted. Their product creates a system that powers any building 24/7 without the need to rely on the main grid or without the need to plan for outages. Together Arnold and his team have produced a product that truly increases the opportunity for all people to incorporate solar power energy into their life.

Solar Power for All

Inspiration

According to Mr. Leitner, the founder and CEO of Yousolar, the idea for the product came from the previously universal design flaw of solar technology in that they A) need to be connected to a utility to make use of the energy, and B) only operate when there is sufficient light powering them, rendering them ineffective in the nighttime and during imperfect weather conditions. To solve this dynamic issue, Leitner and his team figured the best solution was a device that would be able to store this energy for future use. Leading to the creation of the PowerBloc, a battery, and generator for solar energy.

When it comes to the passion behind the project, Mr. Leitner had this to say “Sustainability is not a passion, it is a realization of reality backed up by action. My realization came from understanding at the age of around 12 years that humanity has decimated biodiversity and that biodiversity did not have a function, such as a resource for medicine, but an intrinsic value that is, however, a self-evident axiom. Life on Earth is precious and has a right to exist and evolve without harm.” The YouSolar team has the desire to combat climate change, and they are working to make their vision a reality with their product that is revolutionizing the clean technology world and giving a positive direction for the sector to follow.

Overall impact

We split this section into our business, environmental, and societal impact sections.

Business benefit

One of the highest overhead costs facing business is the cost of electricity. Being reliant on the commercial power grid also means you’re subject to electric rate fluctuations. Sudden price increases add uncertainty to your business, especially to your cash flow management. By doing business with Yousolar you can become independently and efficiently powered. The Powerbloc is a completely dependable and reliable electrical source that operates on or off the grid. With that being said, you can use this product as either a cost-effective primary electrical system or as a cost-effective backup power source. This benefits businesses that struggle with overhead costs and constant outages. That energy independence will attract businesses.

Using a solar energy-based product not only benefits businesses because it uses renewable energy from the sun but also because it is up to date with times and society. Younger people are becoming more open-minded, and their spending money or investing with companies that they feel to be like-minded. By using the PowerBloc, you will not only make a return on investment through energy use and savings but also by increasing the public interest. There are many state and federal financial incentives for solar conversion that also benefit businesses and increase their interest in products and companies similar to Yousolar.

Yousolar and the PowerBloc is an innovative way of making solar energy more accessible. This benefits businesses from small to large as a reliable source of consistent, clean, and renewable energy.

“YouSolar is a crowdsource funded company that relies heavily on the investments of outside sources to bankroll the company. While they have profited off of their productions in specific projects, this company is still in the works of getting off the ground and networking with companies and other interested parties.”

Crowdsourcing increases the scalability of Yousolar and its products. The familiarity of the customer base with the concept of solar and renewable energy products has increased. This company is capable of using effectively and efficiently any resources it receives. The more people invest in YouSolar, the more it can do. It's a great situation given that being sustainable is a popular trend with upward growth. Many more businesses and organizations will surely get behind this company as far as funding and solar energy use in their facilities.

Social and environmental benefit

Environment:

Increasing alternative energy sources would significantly reduce global carbon emissions. The electricity sector in the United States is responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas utilization, which increases the severity of the climate crisis. In contrast, renewable energy sources such as solar power produce minimal pollutants, gaining notable recognition in sustainable markets.

During the interview with CEO, Arnold Leitner, it’s evident that the environmental benefits coincide with the social benefits of YouSolar’s products. When asked what makes PowerBloc sustainable and how it reduces the carbon footprint, he provides a thorough explanation, first indicating that the primary issue with clean energy is that it lacks the capacity to store energy for future use. PowerBloc provides these capabilities. He goes on to say that "this allows solar power to replace conventional means of powering household commodities, such as replacement of natural gas for heat, or the charging of an electric car as opposed to petrol products, or power well pumps to homes in case of fires or other disasters that may lead to a dysfunctional grid. In summation, it cuts down on the processes that often do the most damage to the planet, such as fracking and carbon emissions, while providing power security.” In terms of waste generation, Leitner states that as a new company, YouSolar is currently focused on breaking into the market and drawing attention to its innovative products. They are unable to afford to track and manage their waste but intend to refine their product and management procedures as greener technology emerges to ideally create a cradle to cradle business model.

Societal:

The target markets for this product are primarily in developing countries or areas that are plagued by natural disasters that disrupt electricity resources. Leitner says that YouSolar allows the consumer to “power their life independently.” However, he goes on further to say, “if you want to power the entire world with solar, you have to have a system that works when there is an outage or no grid power at all.” The independent PowerBloc technology provides social benefits in numerous ways. In developed areas such as California, they are a reliable and sustainable source of energy in times of crisis such as wildfires. In the long term, residents who invest in YouSolar products benefit from the off-grid freedom from utilities and host their own energy source at little to no expense over time.

Most electricity concern occurs in developing nations such as India, Indonesia, and areas in rural Africa. PowerBloc provides a self-sufficient, clean energy source to areas plagued by locational drawbacks and outages from faulty equipment. This alternative to diesel generators provides consistent electricity and air conditioning to homes and schools, boosting educational productivity, reducing fossil fuel dependence, and advocating for cleaner, cost-efficient methods for powering infrastructure and technology. When speaking about his customer base, Leitner acknowledged that some are just looking to be “self-sufficient regardless of the consequences.” While he aims to provide a replenishable, independent energy source with his products, YouSolar’s core commitment is to provide clean energy to today’s world and future generations.

Interview

Arnold Leitner, CEO and Founder of company

Photo of interviewee

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YouSolar

YouSolar

Emeryville, California, US

Business Website: https://yousolar.com/

Year Founded: 2012

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

YouSolar strives to provide affordable, reliable, and effective solar power for everyone. Arnold Leitner founded YouSolar in January of 2013 and established their headquarters in Emeryville, California. His goal was to create a product that would make solar energy accessible to everyone. Their product is affordable when compared to diesel generators that cost between 55-75 cents per KW/hour. YouSolar’s technology costs at most half that with 20-25 cents per KW/hour. Their product is reliable because it runs on the sun’s constant energy as well as constant self-monitoring to improve efficiency and stop problems as soon as they appear. Their product is effective because they can power any size building without relying on utility companies. YouSolar has made great achievements and in the process has met three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: #7: Affordable and Clean Energy, #9: Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure, #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and #13: Climate Action

YouSolar currently operates using crowdfunding programs that raised over four million dollars. The company is run by a team of seven men who have ample experience in energy markets as well as clean technology. Leitner is the acting CEO and a project development team member. Gene Krzywinski is in charge of Power Electronics and patented the technology that makes YouSolar stand out in the renewable energy market. Coleman Moore is head of Controls and Communications where he focuses on the software used in solar technology. David Fillmore is responsible for Solar Forecasting and Optimization who also has a strong background in solar software. Galen Torneby is head of Operations and has worked with solar energy for about four decades in various countries around the world. Michael Allman is an investor and is joined by Rick Hoskins in the role of acting as board members for YouSolar. Together these men have generated solar technology that has increased the accessibility of renewable energy.