New Brunswick is home to one of the most highly-diversified energy portfolios in Canada. Hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, and nuclear power – our province has it all. It’s also home to innovative startups in sectors like energy innovation, companies like Fredericton’s Stash Energy.
“Utilities often charge more during peak times — sometimes twice as much as they charge overnight. What Stash Energy does is use a heat pump to store thermal energy overnight when electricity is cheap,” explains Co-Founder and CEO Jordan Kennie. “We then use that thermal energy during peak periods when electricity is expensive to reduce consumers’ electric bills.”
Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke with Mr. Kennie as the company prepared for the rollout of its first production run of heat pumps in October.
ONB: First, why this product? Where did the idea originate and what sets it apart?
Kennie: Our Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Daniel Larsen, was listening to a PEI radio station; a utility was discussing increased output it would have to facilitate due to customers switching from oil to heat pumps. They noted they would need to build a new power plant, which could cost around $70 million. It was that or pay consumers to keep oil heat furnaces. Daniel thought there had to be a better way.
Daniel and I are electrical engineers, and our CTO Erik Hatfield is a computer engineer. We created the Stash solution as a final design project for our engineering degrees. We really dug into the heat pump market and realized this is happening everywhere. Thermal Storage lets you get through those times when demand is high, and the grid can’t keep up. There’s so much value; you take advantage of renewable energy, reduce blackouts, and lower fossil fuel use.
We’re storing thermal energy versus electrical energy. It’s much safer. Things like lithium-ion batteries have a bigger insurance risk and have a shorter lifespan if they’re used for major things like heating and cooling.
Stash Energy was recently recognized for its innovation. Tell us about that.
Yes, StartUs Insights named us one of the top five emerging thermal energy storage startups in the world, that’s from an analysis of I believe about 300 global companies. It’s great to be recognized, and exciting to see just how many companies are tackling thermal storage. It’s reinforcement that comes at a great time as we get ready to roll out product. This confirms we’re in an exciting sector and we’re on the right track.
Indeed, that’s why energy innovation is such a big focus for ONB. How do you feel about the state of that sector in the province?
It’s a great time to be in that industry. I think we’re now working with every power company in the province in at least some capacity – NB Power, Saint John Energy, even the City of Edmundston where we are deploying Stash Energy units.
Since we started just four years ago, New Brunswick has made great strides in energy innovation, pushing the envelope in areas like the smart grid. NB Power recently announced that smart meters are ready to go, so that’s exciting to see those roll out to consumers in a couple of years. Saint John Energy is doing interesting things with their wind farm project, they’re also trying out new technology like our product. Add in the Small Modular Reactor piece and it’s incredible how much has been done to build up this sector in just a few short years.
It’s crucial because we have relied on a small number of generators to power New Brunswick and bought additional power from outside the province. Those generators are aging, coming to a place where we’ll need to invest more in existing generation or build new generation or try something else. The world has shown that trying something else is probably the way – thermal storage options like ours for example.
You look at other jurisdictions like Germany and see that we really can get to net-zero emissions and we don’t have to only use carbon-emitting sources. Climate change is very real and combatting it is vital. That’s why all this innovation is so important for the province and the world.
ONB loves to work with exciting companies like Stash, and it’s even better when they start being recognized for their work like you have.
ONB has been a great partner through this. Your team has helped us with multiple trade missions in Europe and the U.S. You’ve also helped us go through the patent process, which we had no idea about when we launched. Most recently, we’d been looking for new partnerships in our local supply chain and ONB went out and found people for us that are interested in doing business with us. It’s been the introductions and mentorship that have really impressed us. It’s easy to network here, and New Brunswick is a great place to start a young business.
Become an early adopter with Stash Energy here.
In the coming weeks, ONB will continue to tell the stories of companies already at work building that new New Brunswick we envision.
Jordan Kennie and Ryan Mitchell photo via Saint John Energy