But renewable energy brings new possibilities as an energy and business that is decentralised. It can be produced locally, anywhere in the world. This is an incredibly liberating and potentially democratising aspect of the renewable energy revolution. But are we really poised to take advantage of it? Or are we stuck in same old, same old systems, businesses and infrastructure that not only leak incredible amounts of energy on its way from source to the end-user, but accumulate wealth within a handful of companies while crushing out would-be competitors?
Energy is the story of this decade. How the energy transition plays out is yet to be decided. The stakes are high.
Solar cleantech startup Tinia is staking its claim on a transition that is not only more energy efficient, but more just: “the biggest challenge for this kind of energy is that the grid is based on a model that is 100 years old and is based on the mindset that this is centralised energy,” says Tinia Co-founder Radu Puchiu, “the big change is that we can produce energy in local grids, so there’s a huge transformation the grid needs. There’s a study that says that up to 80% of the potential of renewable energy is going to be wasted in the coming years due to the grid.”
The Romania-based cleantech startup – named after the Etruscan mythological God of the sky – aims to unlock solar’s potential as a force for environmental and social justice as well as address the problems with grid inefficiency.
Their solution entails both hard and software. It works within existing infrastructure, using the current grid but adding an extra layer of data that creates efficiency and predictability, Tinia’s also designed an operating system and a blockchain-based certification to enable anyone, anywhere to buy and sell solar energy securely.
“It all started with a discussion about ‘inventing’ a currency for energy transactions, soon we realised that an operating system is needed – that was probably the turning point,” says Radu.
The idea became reality when four co-founders came together in a shared vision to create the operating system for localised, democratised solar energy: “it’s Florin Lung’s entrepreneurial energy, with Ovidiu Marian’s high-level technical knowledge and Sandu Babasan’s operational agility. I bring more of a strategic perspective with my background in the government, coordinating strategies and policies in the Prime Minister’s Office. It is where I was in close contact with sustainability policies, from UN SDGs to EU policies and fund schemes. I strongly believe we have the right solution at the right time,” says Radu.
“I believe that we have to relentlessly look for a more efficient way we all use the Earth’s resources, and I think technology and data will play a significant role in the future of energy.”
His motto? “Be good, do good! Be the change you want to see in the world. Look for progress, not perfection, and another word I strongly believe in: together. Collaboratively we can achieve anything.”
How are you disrupting the solar market?
Decentralising solar energy for a sustainable future – that’s our belief. We maximize the efficiency of the solar energy production using a proprietary hardware-software, AI, and blockchain platform, by giving all the actors connected to the electrical grid the possibility to securely and transparently transact the surplus energy. We aim to become the operating system for distributed energy resources. In simple terms, from residential to solar farms, we help solar energy producers make money out of their unused energy. More efficient systems that speed up the transition to green energy and sustainable future worldwide.
How does your technology work?
With the AI and blockchain-driven platform, Tinia gives all actors connected to the electrical grid the possibility to transact surplus energy and maximise the efficiency of solar energy production. We aim to become the operating system for distributed energy resources. From residential to solar farms, we help solar energy producers make money out of their unused energy with more efficient systems that speed up the transition to green energy and a sustainable future worldwide.
Tinia tackles 3 key solar pain points
Tinia provides high-level predictability by collecting and reading data at a granular level with hardware placed on every solar panel that collects data on Watts produced, temperature, weather, and the angle of the panel. Tinia collects granular data from each panel and then uses AI to add climate data, pollution data and other data that makes sense in terms of successfully forecasting output levels. The ability to collect and analyse this level of granular data goes one-step further than many existing solar solutions and is a key differentiator.
Right now, a green certificate is just a convention. It says somebody produced some energy and somebody used that energy, but if you look in detail, you can’t tell whether or not the same energy was reported as used by two or three other companies. Tinia creates a blockchain-based green certificate guaranteeing trust in every transaction.
There is a huge gap between the current centralised grid model and the capability of solar energy solutions as a decentralised form of energy: Tinia’s operating system enables anyone who can produce solar energy to transact and trade locally, community-driven solar solution means less energy is wasted as it travels shorter distances.
What’s the market opportunity for Tinia and how do you plan to grow and scale?
What were some of the hardest parts of the journey to get this far?
Probably the challenges we faced until now were around the technology, getting the high standard we always wanted. Looking back, presenting our solution with the universities and research institutes we partnered with was one of the most challenging times but also the greatest joy, when we had their validation.
What are your 3 top tips for other Green Techpreneurs?
Not compromising on the technical solution is also a thing we were happy we were committed to.
Which 3 adjectives best describe your Tinia journey?
Energetic, persistent, transformational
What’s ahead for Tinia?
We partnered with KPMG for a detailed ten-year business plan for growth. We see three rounds of investment in the next two years to bring our solution to the market – we’re currently seeking investors.
Tinia has achieved proof of concept with its tech validated by the Technical University in Cluj, the Political University in Bucharest, and via professors including Ami Elazari, Founder of Millennium Renewables, who boasts 29 patents in the photovoltaic industry.
We’re now taking our solution to three living labs, including a collaboration with the US Department of Energy, as well as looking for investors.
What do you do when it’s time to unwind?
I see life as a building. You cannot work only on one wall. Sooner or later, it will fall if not part of a structure. So it is not about a day off, but having time to work or build on different layers and parts all the time. Family moments and conversations, reading, cooking, friends gathering – these are intertwined with my work, study or professional growth. Happiness stays in the balance or in the mix, I would say.
Do you have daily rituals that keep you grounded?
Do the two cats count? I’m joking. Cats can never keep you grounded – they’re my favourite distraction. Caring for my plants and garden is part of a daily ritual I am faithful to.
…………….if Radu could teleport himself into the future he’d move into the time where “Tinia’s solution is omnipresent and people enjoy its advantages, a time of energy abundance and a technology to manage it for the benefit of all. I would love to see that day. I believe it is not that far off.”
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