Powering Remote Communities with Sustainable Energy Storage
Eddy Chiang, Co-founder of Moment Technology discusses what energizes him and his venture’s mission
Last week, we sat down with Eddy Chiang, part of our 2020 Next 36 cohort and Co-founder of Moment Technology on LaunchPod. Moment is replacing diesel generators for remote communities by repurposing electric vehicle batteries into sustainable energy storage.
Only about half way through our program, Moment has won the RBC people’s choice award, and they are in conversation with auto manufacturers with big hopes to change the way we store and use energy. Read on to learn more about Eddy’s journey and how Moment plans to bring reliable, safe and renewable energy to remote communities.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Growing up, I watched in awe as my mom raised me as a single mom. She moved here when she was twenty five from China with no money in her pockets. Her days consisted of working as a waitress in dim sum shops, working as a driver, putting herself through school and all the while inspiring us to be the best version of ourselves (like forcing me to join the Air Cadets, which you can hear more about in our LaunchPod episode.) All of this hustle led into her starting her own business, a restaurant she could call her own.
As entrepreneurs, we’re often faced with the sentiment that the pursuit of opportunity is possible regardless of a lack of resources. This really strikes home with me. My mother embodied this and she is the main reason I’ve embarked on an entrepreneurial journey.
Do you talk to your mother about entrepreneurship and what you’re building?
Yes, she’s really proud of me. Although I’m busy with my startup and she’s busy running her own business, we find time to have our weekly walks around the beach in Vancouver. We talk about the troubles of our businesses, startups in general and the whole journey. And, although we come from completely different sectors, it’s really helpful to have another entrepreneur to talk with.
Today, what problem is Moment Technology trying to solve?
There are two huge problems that we’re trying to solve here. The first one is repurposing the battery life of discarded electric car batteries to create more reliable, renewable energy for different purposes like powering homes, renewables etc. Let’s say you have a Nissan LEAF and you’ve driven it for eight years. Initially when you bought it, the range was about 400 kilometers. But after eight years, you see it’s down to only 60 kilometers and you think it’s probably time to turn it in. The problem is, when these electric vehicles are disposed of, there’s still 80 percent of battery life left. The only reason why you see a huge decrease in range is because driving electric vehicles is very stressful on the batteries. If you repurpose these, which is our goal, they act as energy storage and we can actually extend the life of those batteries to seven plus years.
This leads into our second problem: the lack of safe and reliable energy in remote communities. These communities will often go without power for weeks following a powerful storm. I experienced this first hand when I was living in a remote community near Ottawa. So, I started digging and it turns out that these communities are really diesel dependent. Meaning the reliability of their power is extremely low. They’re begging the government for a solution. They’re begging for renewables. But when they’re trying to install solar or wind or hydro they learn that it’s very intermittent, especially with solar power. They could have three to six days without solar or enough solar. This is where our batteries come in and we see a huge opportunity here.
How are you currently working with these remote communities?
Right now, within indigenous communities, our main focus is developing honest, trusting relationships and understanding what they truly need. We’re really tired of seeing companies go in and use them for grants and leave them hanging after they realize that the return on investment is not 100 percent. As an entrepreneur, you really, really need to focus on building these kinds of relationships and truly understanding your customer. It’s crucial for real success and impact.
Looking forward, what do you and your co-founders at Moment hope to accomplish?
Diesel generators have been so normalized in our life. If you look to the right of a bouncy castle at any kids birthday’s party, you’ll see one of these diesel generators. Obviously, this is a hazard to parents but it’s also a pollutant that has toxic fumes. They’re hot, super noisy, and dangerous. And, sometimes, they power whole communities. For about 50 to 100 years, there hasn’t been any innovation in a more sustainable, clean, and safe solution. We really want to change that. If a kid touches our generator, nothing happens. It’s totally fine. It’s totally safe. And, our long-term goal at Moment is to normalize safe, reliable and renewable energy.
Hear more from Eddy on Episode 18 of LaunchPod here.