RatedPower is on a mission to digitize the renewable energy industry and maximize clean energy’s potential with a software as a service (SaaS) product that discovers the smartest ways to design solar energy plants and automates their engineering.
In 2019, the United Nations warned that we may have only a decade or so to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. Renewable energy can play a significant role in mitigating its impact, yet designing and building large renewable energy plants is a time-consuming process.
Andrea Barber saw the inefficiencies inherent in the design process when she worked in engineering consulting for a renewable energy company. Designing and engineering large solar plants is a complex and overwhelming process with many factors to consider. For example, a draftsman plugs in algorithms and formulas to generate reports. “It takes a lot of work from engineers, and for every single change in the project, we had to repeat the process from the beginning,” Andrea says.
Time-consuming tasks like calculating energy production, studying terrain elevations, or determining the optimal distance between solar panels become bottlenecks in developing and deploying solar installations. An engineering team, applying expertise in everything from topography to computer-aided-design, can spend an average of six weeks completing basic engineering and feasibility studies.
Lightning Talks: Andrea Barber | What Makes a Great Impact Entrepreneur
Andrea Barber, CWI fellow and CEO & Co-Founder of a renewable energy company called RatedPower knows you can’t go it alone. That’s why her defining characteristic is Team Spirit.
We've always loved thinking outside the box to make things more efficient. We developed cloud-based software to instantly carry out the design and engineering of large-scale solar plants to accelerate the transition to solar energy.
For Andrea and her colleagues, the answer to the design inefficiencies was technology. They started RatedPower to develop pvDesign, cloud-based software to automate and optimize all stages of solar energy plant creation, from study and analysis to design and engineering.
A personal sense of urgency motivated Andrea and her co-founders. “We are lovers of nature,” she says. “We are really linked to the natural world, and we were very worried that we're not helping enough. How can we use our knowledge and our technology to try to solve this problem? That was the motivation.”
Using heuristic functions, pvDesign finds the optimal site configuration—which may not be obvious even to experienced engineers—and enables comparisons so companies can pick the best site configuration. Customers simply upload the project’s location to the pvDesign software and select the main equipment and criteria. In a few seconds, they can download all the engineering documentation required for the project. A process that once took several weeks now takes a few minutes.
RatedPower’s business model is software as a service (SaaS), which gives customers access to the company’s platform for an annual subscription fee and enables the company to roll out new features continually as they become available.
The company is now working on more complex projects and focusing on bringing its technology to small projects in regions with low access to electricity. RatedPower has calculated that if only one of the 200 projects studied with pvDesign were installed annually, the energy generated would be 10,800 GWh. This translates into enough energy to supply more than three million households, even in remote off-the-grid communities.
By accelerating the adoption of solar power, Andrea’s company is playing a central role in preserving the natural world she loves so much—for herself and for future generations.
We currently have over 80 active customers for pvDesign, with an average of 12 users per company. This means more than 700 users every day benefit from using the software to optimize their solar energy plants and the work of their engineering teams, shortening times, allowing them to focus on more value-added tasks, and the most important: making their solar plants more efficient.