We had the honor of sitting down with Chance Cobb, the co-founder of blip energy to learn all about his mission to accelerate the adoption of renewable resources. He also shares insight on the importance of circular economies and how they positively impact climate change.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
My summer jobs in high school and college were spent on Capitol Hill representing my home state of Colorado for U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle. I was able to leverage those invaluable experiences, paired with my undergraduate degree in Political Science from Lafayette College, to secure a role as a political advocate for the GE Federal Government Relations team. While I supported all the GE businesses, I specializing in energy legislation and regulatory policy. My time with GE coincided with the election of President Obama and The Great Recession. One of my first projects was supporting then Vice President Biden and Valerie Jarrett, who led the incoming President’s transition team and were in search of clean tech projects that would help stimulate the economy. The experience made quite an impression, because after we passed the ~$800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including ~$90 billion allocated to the clean energy economy of the future.
I realized that even with the smartest people in the room a blank check was not the silver bullet many had hoped for and our country needed a better approach to solve complicated issues such as our energy future. I pivoted in my career in search of a more immediately impactful role to shape the country’s energy future. I chose to peruse an advanced degree in search for such enlightenment.
At UNC Kenan-Flagler a MBA in Management Consulting & Sustainable Enterprise formulated my belief that by working closer with utilities I could help to shape energy policy on a state and local level. In my work as a management consultant at ScottMadden, specializing in energy and utility strategic planning and project implementation I found the desire for change and big ideas were common, and the talent to achieve them was certainly available, but regulations, aging supply stacks, and invaluable institutional knowledge of the older workforce preparing for retirement without equally capable replacements; meant radical change while not impossible, would be less likely to grow in an aging industry subservient to customer bases with novice understanding of the issues, and differing opinions on the best path forward for our energy future.
Once again I was seeking to find a more impactful opportunity and went back to school hoping to find like-minded individuals. While at Northwestern University, MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises & Entrepreneurship, I co-founded blip energy with the talented team I continue to work with today. Blip is a residential energy storage company created to democratize energy storage and accelerate the adoption of renewable resources. Our goal is organic growth on a residential level will be recognized and eventually championed by institutional distributors such as utilities. This trajectory of exponential growth will inspire government incentivize programs that promote residential energy storage systems not only to help balance the grid and support our energy future, but also to strategically target underserved communities first with the many subsidies and grants geared toward those noble pursuits. This lofty goal will allow the many other energy challenges and environmental impacts to take a positive step in the right direction. While laying the framework for future innovation and propelling us toward a smart energy future.
By any measure my career path has been a strange trip driven by a quest for meaningful impact and a way to make a difference in clean tech, and sustainably, in hopes of creating a circular economy, while ensuring the social impact values blip energy was based on continue to act as a North Star. These life experiences have helped me compile a unique point of view. After assessing the many top down strategies I helped to architect and implement in the regulatory, corporate, supplier, distributor and generation environment, I have become a firm believer that a bottom up approach may be the missing piece to move the needle for this global energy challenge and I hope to meet my former collogues in the middle as they continue to admirably lead the top down efforts.
But I firmly believe empowering the communities most passionate for change and transparency will have the greatest impact. This is why blip energy is focused on a solution that reaches the largest demographic, by achieving the lowest price point per kWh on the market today, made possible by utilizing second life battery cells to build our energy storage packs in a portable, simple plug and play solution. Set it forget it and take a well-deserved vacation.
What is a fun fact about you?
My favorite activity is heli-skiing first descents with my brother, he lives every week like it’s shark week. An admirable trait worth emulating.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
My parents recently returned from a trip to Antarctica. Their spectacular pictures are a strong advertisement for the importance to combat climate change as long sleeve shirts are not the attire I expected for people who panic when the thermostat drops to 68 degrees. More significantly climate change and sustainability are some of the most controversial topics in America and around the globe. A topic that has become more and more divisive as the political divide widens particularly here in the U.S. Climate change and sustainability require not only the best and brightest scientists, but also significant expertise in strategic communication to find ways to relate to parties on both side of the arguments in search of common goals.
I believe the best way to accomplish this is highlighting the many favorable business cases seen across industries when sustainable business tactics are utilized to improve the bottom line. Capitalism has a way of coordinating approaches from opposing political ideations. This is one reason I believe circular economies can significantly aid in finding common ground not only for the debate on climate change, but also for many topics of political divide. The circular economy essentially avoids excessive consumption and waste, by reusing, repurposing and recycling existing materials and products.
The circular economy efforts blip energy is striving for reduces the high costs of batteries materials and simplifies supply chains (both highly topical in the current global environment), while also playing an important role in geopolitical relations. For example by creating a circular economy for Lithium-Ion batteries most commonly found in electric vehicles, we can repurpose EV battery modules. When EV batteries can no longer power vehicles, they still possess 7-10 years of useful life for stationary energy storage. At the end of the useful second life, batteries can eventually be recycled and the raw materials can be extracted to be used in creating new Lithium-Ion electric vehicle batteries.
This type of circular economy diverts EV batteries from landfills and junkyards, helping to ensure a better environment for future generations. But there are also geopolitical benefits as the vast majority of Lithium-Ion is mined in and imported from China. The U.S. State department notes that over 80% of the global supply chain of rare earth elements, important materials for electric vehicles and wind turbine components is controlled by one country, China.
The sustainable circular economy proposed by blip energy will reduce our dependence on foreign resources and the new applications will be American made. Circular economies must expand in order to reduce emissions across sectors it is essential to achieving climate neutrality goals. Of course this is only one part of blip energy’s mission, and only scratches the service of the many benefits residential energy storage can provide: lowering electric bills; providing energy resiliency during power outages; powering grid stability, aiding demand response for utilities, avoiding disasters such as this past years event in Texas, or even preventing wildfire disruptions seen recently in California and Colorado.
But most importantly we are hoping to empower likeminded people as well as those who need more convincing to make a change without disrupting their day to day life. I hope to ski until I’m 80. I believe climate change and sustainability will have an outsized effect on my ability to reach that goal. I believe sustainability advocates need to be nimble, and tailor individualized messaging to segmented audiences with the hope to build larger coalitions to affect positive change.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I do believe that in 10 years trends in key industries will make climate change and sustainability focal points to revenue generation. I also believe these transformed industries will be led by individuals with a wide range of motivations from environmental preservation to merely greater profits. While I hope for more altruistic trailblazers, I am less concerned with personal motivations as I am with environmental outcomes that align with our need for global sustainability.
In the energy storage industry we are already beginning to see an enormous shift. As OEMs and legacy car companies begin to roll out their EV strategies to compete with Tesla, the increase in electric vehicles will skyrocket. What will become of all those EV batteries after they reach end of life powering a vehicle? Thankfully we have smart people thinking about second life EV battery applications and we have only begun to scratch the surface of second life capabilities.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Education. Learn more about your energy consumption. Learn more about the generation supply stack of your utility provider. Learn more about the flow of electricity and the difficulties that can arise incorporating renewables into the electric grid. Learn more about times of day when renewables are used. Do your best to power energy dense appliances in ways that can not only save you money on your electric bill, but also can help to balance the electric grid (overnight for example).
But most of all don’t be closed minded. We need innovation, and we want to drive towards clean tech and sustainability. Batteries are a promising technology to further the adoption of renewables to help us achieve those goals. But utility supply stacks will remain diversified because we also want reliable electricity at all times of the day.
We love your commitment to improve the world and can’t wait to see all that Blip Energy does in the years to come!
Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green Podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.