When USV started looking closely at the energy sector, we were excited to find networks on multiple levels: at the grid level, a network of electrons; at the market level, a network of transactions and financial products; and at the data level, a network of connected devices and applications.
All of those elements will come into play as we work toward rebuilding an energy infrastructure that’s a fit for our current and future needs. As I write this, the temperature has topped 70 degrees in Boston for a record high in January. Deadly floods have inundated Jakarta. A fire twice the size of Belgium has engulfed Australia. Our reliance on fossil fuels has created an existential crisis for the planet, and it’s clear that shifting to renewables, decentralized energy generation, and therefore, more electricity, will be central to the solution.
This shift is already well underway, with clean energy production exploding, the cost of batteries rapidly declining, and the deployment of electric vehicles growing quickly (regardless of your take on the cybertruck).
However, this shift has the perverse effect of destabilizing a grid that was designed for a world where energy production and distribution are steady and centralized. Renewable resources are not steady (power flows when the sun shines or the wind blows), and decentralized energy resources — everything from solar panels to electric vehicle batteries — are everywhere on the grid. The net effect is that the “solution” of more renewable and decentralized production and storage has caused a new problem: grid instability.
What will be needed, as more renewables and distributed energy resources come online, are software interfaces to manage energy consumption and production, and to navigate the complex regulatory and financial interconnection to the energy markets. These interfaces will need to exist not only for large industrial plants, but for devices and software applications that are part of every home, business, and commercial operation.
That is where Leap’s marketplace and API come in. Leap connects devices and applications to the energy markets, enabling every home, business, farm, and water district (and all the energy consuming and producing devices therein) to act as tiny power plants, responding to market signals, balancing the grid, and earning money.
For example, if you’re a PG&E customer, you can use a Leap-enabled Nest thermostat to automatically reduce your energy usage when the grid needs it, and earn money for it. Or, if you are an electric vehicle owner in California, chances are you’re already using Leap in the background as your charger finds the best prices on the wholesale electricity market. Or, when you shop at certain supermarkets or retail stores, the freezers and HVAC units are making adjustments in response to energy market signals coming from the Leap API.
Over the coming years, many many more devices and the applications that manage them will need to interconnect with the grid and the energy markets, not just regionally, but globally. They will all need a universal, elegant and buttery interface, which is what Leap provides.
USV is thrilled to partner with Thomas, Remco and the Leap team on their Series A financing, alongside existing investors Congruent Ventures, Powerhouse Fund, and National Grid Partners. This financing will help Leap grow their platform and expand into new markets. Leap is an international team, based in SF and the Netherlands, tackling a global challenge, and we are proud to support the company in their next phase of growth.