Smart Buildings Technology (SBT) sat down with Veeral Hardev, VP of Strategy for Ubiquitous Energy, a specialist in transparent solar harvesting technology for use with architectural glass in commercial and institutional smart buildings, who this month announced its closing of a $30 million Series B funding round.
Our podcast talk ranges from the company's background, to its outlook for industry partnerships, and technology lifecycle and deployment questions. The discussion drills down on topics of BMS communications, energy savings, decarbonization, the difference between electrochromic and photovoltaic technologies, and other areas of note within the intelligent buildings segment.
SBT: Tell us about Ubiquitous Energy in terms of company background.Veeral Hardev, Ubiquitous Energy: Ubiquitous Energy essentially spun out of MIT about 10 years ago. The founders' concept was researching ways to make solar more efficient, with a mindset [toward] deploying solar technology more broadly. While they were doing that, they came across this concept of making solar technology transparent -- so now you can start to apply solar technology to all these different surface areas and places where you can't apply traditional solar technologies. [So the company's vision became,] what if you could have windows and essentially just turn them into solar panels, without affecting the way that they visually look?
That's what's behind the company and what we're gearing up to commercialize here in a couple of years. It's a solar technology that you can embed into a window to transform the window into a solar panel, so that it still looks like a traditional window.
A question on installation and deployment: If you're a building owner or a developer, and you want to get solar energy windows, how do you get those? Is it a contractor installing them, or would your company come out and consult?
On the commercial side, our plan is to provide the insulated glass units that get produced, and sent to the downstream supply chain to somebody like an installer or a glazier, and those are the companies that actually install the windows into the building. Our mantra really is to not disrupt the supply chain. We're not going to be the end-all-be-all technology company; we're going to work with partners, and we've already started forming some partnerships.
What does the UE technology look like at the level of interfacing with the building management system? Is there some kind of software that is involved in managing and measuring the the amount of energy being collected by the windows?
To be quite honest, this is an area we're actively working on. We have installed our windows at a number of sites across the country and around the world, and what we've done there is to create open source platform applications which you can find on Google Assistant, where we tie in wireless communications to show how much solar energy is incident on the windows surface; you know, this is what the temperature is, this is how much energy is being generated any given time. So there is going to be the ability to capture and monitor all this data.