What better way to test-drive solar technologies than, well, to drive them around? Smart-building entrepreneur Alexis Ringwald did just that when she co-organized the Climate Solutions Road Tour, in which she and her partners drove 2,400 miles across India in solar electric cars. It was a move, she says, designed to highlight innovations by Indian companies and to inspire others to take action.
Since returning to the States from her 2.5-year Fulbright position, Ringwald has turned that big ambition to buildings and the smart grid. At Valence Energy, which she cofounded, Ringwald creates software to help decentralize the power grid into a network of smart microgrids, or communities that consume energy produced nearby and on-site. Valence has already made major inroads in decentralizing the grid: Last year, it partnered with Cisco to build smart, energy-efficient buildings. Eventually, Ringwald hopes to take her work full-circle, bringing microgrid breakthroughs to India, where on-the-grid power can be both inefficient and unreliable.