Ahead of the Sustainable Innovation Forum taking place in Katowice, Poland on the 9th and 10th December, we caught up with Charlotta Holmquist, Founder of Blixt, to discuss Blixt’s vision for the Electrical Evolution.
Tell me about Blixt’s journey so far?
Being a young company we are overwhelmed by the attention we have received so far. While working on an early prototype of the solid state circuit breaker last year, we were noticed by a well-known journalist at The Economist. The article with the title “Smart circuit-breakers for energy-efficient homes,” was an eye opener to business leaders in multiple industries across the world. Since circuit breakers are omnipresent where electricity is being used, hence the potential use cases are significant and global. Energy, construction, automotive, smart cities and industrial 4.0, just to mention a few. It is very easy to be flattered by such interest and run for all the opportunities so we remind ourselves on keeping our focus.
Our main objective is to empower the Electrical Evolution, creating innovations that spark for an entirely new energy paradigm. We do this by disrupting the traditional circuit breakers and power inverters, both critical components that can accelerate the transformation to sustainable, all-electric technologies worldwide.
The four co-founders of Blixt had been working with the technology under the radar a few years before founding Blixt Tech AB earlier this year (2018). The founding team are seasoned entrepreneurs with decades of experience from digitization, hardware innovations and big data systems.
What challenges does Blixt solve and how?
Despite being the entry point to all electricity in a home, circuit breakers are still, after 150 years (!), mechanical products that sit idle most of the time. With its strategic location it could represent one of the largest energy savings potentials and pave the way for clean energy, but since they are mechanical they can only serve one purpose; safety.
The new Blixt Breaker is the first and only miniature solid state circuit breaker. You can imagine this pure digital device being a smart meter, remote control and a fast breaker all-in-one single device. It can modulate the control from 0-100%, controlling the power just like a water tap, and cut circuits within only 250 nanoseconds. That is now possible. Moreover, the small device fits in all fuse boxes around the world.
Blixt’s upcoming innovation, the X-verter, is a new generation of bidirectional inverter that we believe will be a game changer for the mobility and PV markets. Unlike any other inverter it has no electrolytic capacitors, no active cooling or heat sinks which makes it significantly smaller in size. Cost, size and lifetime are the traditional large challenges for inverters and we think we might have solved those with the X-verter.
What changes need to happen to allow wider use of renewable energy?
There is a general clear vision of how the future energy market will look. It will incorporate distributed energy resources, often produced on small scale from renewable sources and highly variable supply, integrated with larger, centralized generation facilities. At the same time there are new disruptive loads such as electric vehicles rising by the millions. At present, the most common solution to handle the fluctuations and peak demand is unfortunately backup forms of power, often dirty diesel generators or coal plants.
The question is therefore not “where do we want to go?” but “how do we get there?”
We believe that grid edge intelligence is the key to address those challenges. This includes better data and the ability to control the electricity at the edge, such as behind the meter usage and storage, rooftop solar and smart EV charging and vehicle-to-grid solutions.
One effort made on larger scale is to invest billions of euros in smart meters, but it is clear they are not the solution. They only collect limited amounts of data for the utility, do not give households greater control of their energy use, and cannot implement demand side management.
In this context we see that Blixt can play a vital part at the grid edge. Essentially we turn the fuse box into a smartphone, collecting and communicating rich, real time electricity usage data as it passes through the circuit breaker. This data is communicated to the energy service provider so that it can effectively manage the future grid. Crucially, the Blixt Breaker also allows real time, remote control of appliances, heating, cooling and EVs, thereby enabling demand side management.
What does the future for Blixt look like?
Our goal is that our advanced IP protected designs are integrated in millions of electrical devices, fuse boxes, connected cars, industry 4.0 applications, energy generation, storage and charging solutions around the world. We have covered some distance in the technical development but still have plenty of work to do. For example, in order get to disruptive price levels we need to make the product into a small chip, which takes time and costs quite a bit. Moreover, local rules and regulations are not changed over a day, but need to adapt to new technology in order to facilitate the paradigm shift.
You’re joining us at the 9th annual Sustainable Innovation Forum, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?
To be invited to Sustainable Innovation Forum is a great honor and excellent opportunity for us to meet with aware impact investors. Also it will be very exciting to engage first hand with all the high level decision and policy makers that are attending.
Blixt will be joining us at this year’s Sustainable Innovation Forum, taking place on the 9th and 10th December, find out more here.