POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Idaho-based Inergy brings innovation, research and product development in solar energy to the gem state and with it— a mission to bring the world portable energy.
By: Idaho Commerce
About one fifth of the world’s population do not have regular access to energy. Regular conveniences that many in developed countries may take for granted daily are unattainable because of limited infrastructure, remoteness of location or proximity to energy sources and poverty.
Sean Luangrath, CEO of Idaho-based solar energy innovation company Inergy, witnessed these challenges first-hand while living in a camp for refugees of the Vietnam War in the late 1970’s and more recently while visiting Laos, his birthplace, after being away for over 30 years and was driven to commit his life to creating energy independent communities that could live “off the grid”. Luangrath and his partners have created a model that would help address this need.
With the support of funding from the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) program, Inergy—in collaboration with the University of Idaho for technical oversight—began development of a compact solar powered system in 2016 that will provide whole-home power with a unit that weighs less than 100 pounds. The nature of all IGEM grantees is a partnership that maximizes the research capability of Idaho’s universities, promotes collaborations and encourages job development.
According to Luangrath, the solar powered system will be integrable with others like it, so neighborhoods experiencing a blackout during a disaster or villages that have never had power can create their own electricity grid through linking. Luangrath says that Inergy’s model is unique and will help deliver integrated power because of the bottom-up approach that requires only a small investment, as opposed to the massive investments of solar farms, solar panels on a home or even a farm of battery banks similar to the project completed by Tesla in Southern California.
“It’s possible that clean energy is being approached the wrong way,” said Luangrath. “Rather than taking a ‘top down’ approach where a great deal of investment and planning and in some cases, bureaucracy, is required –Inergy’s philosophy is that it should come from the bottom up and that energy should be attainable. Our mission is to bring the world portable solar power, and we can only do that if we make that energy accessible to everyone.”
The IGEM project is not the only solar endeavor of Inergy’s. Inergy just ran a successful IndieGoGo campaign for their most consumer-friendly product yet— a $65 take anywhere solar quick charger and light that will fully charge two phones, a tablet or GPS called the Raptor Pro. This charger joins a fleet of Inergy’s other solar generators that are helping people globally seek energy independence.
Inergy was born when former strangers united over a common mission—to bring energy to a world that did not have a prior avenue to it.
Luangrath had originally planned to move Inergy’s operations to Utah, but was so impressed with Idaho’s business culture and the support the company was receiving that he determined Pocatello would be the company’s headquarters indefinitely.
“The support in Idaho has been incredible. With the Idaho National Laboratory in our backyard, the state championing our efforts and the low cost of doing business, we’ve found the permanent symbolic headquarters for Inergy right here in Idaho,” said Luangrath.