Watt It Takes
Watt It Takes
Apr 12, 2023
Leap CEO and Co-Founder Thomas Folker
Play • 1 hr 7 min

The U.S. is on track to deploy 550 gigawatts of new renewables on the grid by 2030. That's a massive amount of solar, wind, and other renewables powering buildings, EVs, appliances, and industrial processes in our increasingly electrified world.

Last year electric vehicles (EVs) hit a massive milestone by making up 5% of all new car sales in the U.S. And Bloomberg estimated that more than half of new car sales could be EVs by 2030.

That future looks bright, but to keep the headlights on and the wheels turning, the grid will have to be prepared to provide power at triple its current capacity by 2050. Fossil fuel peaker plants have been filling in the gaps left by renewables during times of peak demand. But to reach net-zero by 2050, the U.S. will need more sources of firm power that don't come from coal or natural gas.

Thomas Folker, CEO and co-founder of Leap, a Powerhouse Ventures portfolio company, is working to solve that problem. 

Leap has built the platform needed to turn all of our various grid-connected devices into virtual power plants that can be called upon during times of high demand. Thomas and the team at Leap are helping to prevent the use of fossil fuel power plants called peaker plants, many of which only run during times of high energy and don't actually run on a daily basis.

Virtual power plants, or VPPs, aggregate the combined power of EVs, rooftop solar, residential and commercial batteries and other distributed energy resources, or DERs, and make that energy available to areas of high demand. Leap's API makes it simple for these smart, grid-connected devices to collectively act as virtual power plants, and their platform allows their customers to sell that energy to buyers.

I spoke with Thomas about leveraging software solutions to solve hard, real-world problems on the grid. We also talked about how his early roles helping build energy projects both big and small gave him a realistic view on what it takes to make lasting change.

Watt It Takes is brought to you by Shell Ventures. Shell Ventures specializes in unlocking deployment opportunities to help their portfolio companies scale, access customers and commercialize their solutions. Visit shell.com/ventures to learn more about how they can help your company reach the next level of growth.

Powerhouse is an innovation firm that works with leading global corporations to help them find, partner with, invest in, and acquire the most innovative startups in clean energy, mobility, and climate. Powerhouse Ventures backs seed-stage startups building innovative software to rapidly decarbonize our global energy and mobility systems. You can learn more at powerhouse.fund, and you can subscribe to our newsletter at https://www.powerhouse.fund/subscribe.

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