Recent advancements in the solar industry have seen our sector develop radically, and smart grids, in particular, are facilitating a greater expansion across the country in terms of solar power supporting mainstream energy needs. Keen to explore these smart grid developments in more depth, I sat down for a chat with Alex Bazhinov, CEO & Founder of Lumin, to discuss this unique space the solar industry finds itself in, and the prospective future of smart grids.
Founded in 2016, Lumin is based in Charlottesville, VA, and is a pioneer in the solar industry. Celebrating a diverse and multidisciplinary team, Lumin places a strong focus on responsive load control, developing residential microgrids, and understanding the importance of collaboration between solar PV; backup generators, and traditional electrical grid power. Their passion for developing efficient, mainstream green energy power sources is an obvious driving force.
Their most recent product is incredibly exciting - the Lumin Edge is an adaptable modular energy management system allowing broad customisation of monitoring and power control management as needed, working alongside the Lumin Smart Panel that can transform any traditional electrical panel into an affordable smart panel, providing real-time energy consumption data, whilst optimising the performance of home microgrids with energy automation and advanced load control.
At such an exciting time for Lumin, my conversation with Alex was engaging, and inspiring, and pointed to greater advancements ahead for the company and the industry as a whole. This CEO is clearly a passionate, frenetic founder, and his expertise is far-reaching - I had to know what brought him to solar.
Well, that could take probably the whole interview…!
I spent the first 10 years of my career working in the mining industry, of all the places, being exactly on the other side of the things that I do now. But being in the mining industry really helped me to understand, as humanity and civilization, where are we getting our natural resources from? How do we, you know, consume all those natural resources? This really pushed me towards finding more sustainable, renewable energy needs.
I founded Lumin in 2016, with a single vision of enabling buildings of the future, running on independent smart microgrids - sustainable, efficient and renewable. We’re passionate about enabling buildings and communities to come together, to work together, for the energy we use to work with our planet and communities.”
So it's a very good question. In fact, I think if you ask, you know, 10 different people in the industry, each person would give you a different answer. My definition would be that a smart grid is a distributed grid that is powered by an ever-changing, dynamic combination of energy supply sources, largely relying on distributed generation in storage. Importantly, however, a smart grid is capable of flexible dynamic load management or load shifting, depending on the current energy generation energy availability.”
As much as of course, there's the climate change awareness that's growing and people are being mindful about solar and clean energy, I think people also want to know where their energy is coming from. Broadly, the power people are using is a so-called Grid Mix, a combination of various generation sources that are present on the grid at any given moment.
However, we’re seeing that change - actually, a couple of weeks ago, California was powered nearly 100%, from renewable energy sources - it was exciting. What that means is that smart grids are making clean energy more readily available on the mainstream grids, so you can be reducing your carbon footprint while still using “traditional” means of power. You don’t have to be actively using solar exclusively - it can still make a difference.”
Yeah, there are plenty of benefits - firstly, the demand response, that ability to analyse demand during peak hours and tapping into a large variety of different loads in order to distribute and utilise power in a smart, efficient way. Means of battery storage and charging is also a huge step-up, and the value of transactive energy is central, too. Transactive energy essentially allows users to trade electricity between buildings - solar and stored power can be shared across the grid, and that’s huge.
You can provide more value to the people who have solar by accelerating their payback on their installed solar systems since they now not only consume electricity, but they can monetize the electricity they produce by selling it to their neighbours, meaning everyone can reduce their carbon emissions.”
Well, at Lumin we’re focused on the residential market, so adoption rates are definitely on the rise there - both in smart grids and energy storage. General economics but also effects of climate change are, I think, driving this - for example, the wildfires in California, which then lead to great outages, alongside other weather extremes, have led people to look into power systems you can use when the national grid is down.”
Yeah, I think the future is exciting. Really, as people, as a civilization, we're living in a time of change - and that doesn't happen that often to be honest. We are shifting how we produce and consume energy to a cleaner, more sustainable process.
Lumin will be evolving further into energy services with unique proprietary hardware and software platforms that can serve the wider energy market, anywhere from the end-user homeowner all the way to various energy players. Solar electric vehicles, smart lighting and appliances, are really taking hold - we’re going to be part of helping this expand, across the country”.
It’s clear that we’re living in potentially remarkable times for the solar industry, with vast space for growth and development. Alex Bazhinov and his team at Lumin are taking great strides to ensure that smart grids, intelligent power management and battery storage are optimised to their fullest over the coming years, aiming to make mainstream solar power a reality sooner rather than later. A huge thanks to Alex again for his time, keep your eyes on Lumin - they’re sure to keep lighting up the industry with every new innovation.
If you fancy discussing the future of smart homes, or any other trends in the wider residential technology industry, then please drop me a message! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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