Q&A with Susan Stone, CEO at Ubiquitous Energy, Inc.

Susan Stone, CEO at Ubiquitous Energy, Inc. has been a longtime board member and investor in the company. Prior to joining Ubiquitous, she was the founder and CEO of Sierra Wasatch Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm, and managed early-stage investing for Riverhorse Investments, Inc. Susan has also worked at JPMorgan in New York and Houlihan Lokey in Los Angeles as an investment banker focused on mergers & acquisitions. Stone holds an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.

It’s such a good time to be a part of the renewable energy industry. New technologies are coming to market every day and we work in an industry that is trying together to solve an enormous challenge.



MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little about yourself and what led you to your position as the CEO at Ubiquitous Energy, Inc.?
SUSAN STONE:
My background is in finance, first as an investment banker and then as a venture capital investor. I have a degree in Economics from Yale University and an MBA in Finance from Georgetown University. My training as an investment banker taught me to be creative, curious, and analytically rigorous.

I invested in Ubiquitous Energy in 2014 when the company was still at a very early stage and joined the board of directors at that time. In Ubiquitous Energy’s transparent solar technology, I saw the opportunity to deploy solar power generation across surfaces that would otherwise be untapped.

As a director, I partnered with Ubiquitous Energy’s founder, Miles Barr, then CEO, to help guide the company on its path toward commercialization. In 2019, we determined that the company’s technology and products were ready to commercialize and I was invited to expand my role, becoming the company’s CEO. My history with Ubiquitous Energy, including the time I spent working with Miles and the rest of the team, made me a natural fit.

My passion for renewable energy and fighting climate change is very personal. I live in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, CA, with my husband, Ben, and our two dogs, Kaya and Ahsoka. I love to spend time outdoors no matter the season and feel the impact of climate change very intimately every day.

M7: What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digitalization?
SS:
To stay competitive in our market, we need to be laser-focused on our go-to-market execution while continuing to push our technology R&D forward into new horizons. Our first products are in architectural glass, where innovation happens at a careful pace. Our UE Power™ residential windows and commercial glass facade products have to not only produce electricity using our transparent solar coating, but also perform as best-in-class glass units in all other respects: long product lifetimes, uncompromised aesthetics, solar heat rejection, and insulating benefits meeting local and building code requirements. This execution focus is critical to getting our products manufactured and deployed in the market at scale.

At the same time, we are constantly working to innovate and expand the frontiers for our patented technology. We do that by pushing limits in R&D and making advancements in product integration for other applications. Our transparent solar coatings are nearly invisible, and applications in transportation, consumer electronics, and agriculture are on the horizon.


As new renewable energy sources come online, like our power-producing windows and facades, we have an opportunity to diversify our energy sources and the way we think about them.



M7: Could you please throw some light on the role of renewable energy in energy management and conservation?
SS:
As new renewable energy sources come online, like our power-producing windows and facades, we have an opportunity to diversify our energy sources and the way we think about them. We enable solar power generation on vertical surfaces of a building, harvesting sunlight for electricity generation on-site from a surface that was passive until today. Combining conventional rooftop solar panels with transparent solar glass on vertical surfaces allows for a significant portion of a building’s energy needs to be generated on-site. This shift from 100% utility-based electricity to a mix of utility plus distributed renewable energy generation reduces weight on a region’s utility grid, increases resiliency, and reduces storage and transmission losses.

M7: What actions are you taking to improve cost control through the use of solar energy in today’s increasingly competitive environment at Ubiquitous Energy?
SS:
We understand that customers don’t want to compromise on cost when deploying renewable energy technologies and have designed our transparent solar products with that in mind. Our coatings are engineered to fit into standard glass manufacturing coating processes and product constructions. What that means for the cost is that we’re able to leverage existing industry assets and work with the existing industry supply chain to keep costs low.

In most contexts, the customer would be purchasing a window or glass façade already and therefore is focused on the incremental cost vs incremental benefit. Because our product construction is the same as the typical insulating glass unit construction, the incremental cost of purchasing a UE PowerTM window is small relative to the cost of a typical window unit itself. What’s more, in most cases our electricity generation pays back the investment in incremental cost in a just few years.


Our vision for a greener world is one in which any surface exposed to light can generate its own renewable energy, allowing us to truly think locally about clean electricity.



M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
SS: Cutting through the noise:
With so many communication platforms, media outlets, and demands on our audience’s attention, we believe it’s critical to have a clear and consistent message.

Building trust: We all want customers to trust our brand and products. With first products in building materials, a part of a building’s infrastructure, trust is critical. One of the ways we tackle this is through our commitment to working with industry leaders throughout the supply and distribution chains.

Bringing physical products to life, virtually: We’ve learned the value of using virtual tools to demonstrate our products and technology to partners and customers without waiting to see each other in person.

M7: What is your vision for a greener world? How do you plan to achieve it?
SS:
Our vision for a greener world is one in which any surface exposed to light can generate its own renewable energy, allowing us to truly think locally about clean electricity. We plan to achieve this vision first with our architectural glass products and then with consumer electronics devices, transportation, and even agricultural applications. Because we harvest only non-visible light in generating electricity, we can enable many devices to power themselves while maintaining their aesthetics. This concept of ubiquitous power generation, bringing electricity to surfaces that have been passive, opens up so many new possibilities.

M7: What is your advice for young women considering a career in the energy industry?
SS:
It’s such a good time to be a part of the renewable energy industry. New technologies are coming to market every day and we work in an industry that is trying together to solve an enormous challenge. It’s also a time when a diversity of perspectives and ideas is very valuable and collaboration amongst players is critical.

I’m very proud of our team including the women who are senior leaders at our company. There’s no “right” path or training that leads to a career in renewable energy and there are roles to suit just about every background. My advice is to young women is to be curious, figure out what you enjoy and what you’re good at, and hone that skill set. Identify companies with missions and leaders that you respect and make contact patiently and persistently.

ABOUT UBIQUITOUS ENERGY, INC.

Ubiquitous Energy is the world leader in transparent photovoltaics. Its award-winning UE Power™ technology is the world’s only truly transparent solar product. UE Power™ harvests solar energy and serves as an invisible, onboard source of electricity for a variety of end use products. The thin coating can be applied to the surface of window glass to provide electricity generation and energy efficiency while remaining visibly indistinguishable from the fully transparent standard windows on the market today. Originally spun out of MIT, Ubiquitous Energy is now producing its highly transparent, efficient solar cells and windows in its production facility in Silicon Valley.

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Clarios and Altris announce collaboration agreement to advance sustainable sodium-ion battery technology

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

Clarios, a global leader in advanced low-voltage battery solutions, and Altris, a pioneer in sustainable sodium-ion battery technology, announced they have created an innovative partnership aimed at developing low-voltage sodium-ion batteries for the automotive industry. Every vehicle, including hybrid electric and electric vehicles, requires a low-voltage energy source to power critical systems and functions. As hybrid and electric vehicles continue to evolve, the low-voltage network is being asked to support an increased number of software-based functions such as steer-by-wire, break-by-wire, autonomous functions, and enhanced in cabin experiences. This transformation is leading automakers to explore multi-battery solutions that include lithium-ion, absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead-acid batteries, and other chemistries for some of the world's most iconic vehicles. While lead-acid batteries represent the best example of a circular economy in the world, and lithium-based products continue to evolve, Clarios chemistry agnostic and circular approach has become of strategic importance. Sodium-ion (Na-ion) batteries are inherently sustainable and easy to recycle, made from salt, wood, iron, and air. The materials used to produce Na-ion cells are abundant and available – free from conflict minerals and toxic elements. The new joint collaboration program aims to develop an Na-ion battery with a potential of up to 60 volts to support automotive applications in both new vehicles and for aftermarket replacements, that also can complement a multi-battery low-voltage system configuration. "Clarios brings extensive experience with low-voltage systems within the automotive sector and will play a leading role in defining and optimizing the specifications for the sodium-ion cells," said Federico Morales Zimmermann, vice president and GM, Global Customers, Products and Engineering at Clarios. Altris, a leader in sodium-ion cathode material and battery cell technology, will focus on the development of Na-ion cells specifically adapted to the needs of the low-voltage automotive battery market. "Altris wants to bring the world better, safer and truly sustainable sodium-ion batteries. We're continuously investigating new applications where our technology can make significant impact at massive scale. As such, we're very excited to team up with Clarios who share our strong ESG focus, to develop low-voltage cells for the automotive industry. With this partnership, we're able to access every third vehicle driven globally and accelerate the green transition", said Björn Mårlid, CEO of Altris. The long-term goal is to develop a detailed production plan for low-voltage battery systems using these Na-ion cells. The companies believe the mass production of Na-ion batteries would represent an important advancement in automotive battery technology and an important step in supporting the circularity goals of the automotive industry. About Clarios Clarios is the global leader in advanced, low-voltage battery technologies for mobility. We power progress through ever-smarter solutions for virtually every kind of vehicle. With 16,000 employees in over 100 countries, we bring deep expertise to our Aftermarket and OEM partners, and reliability, safety and comfort to everyday lives. We answer to the planet with a rigorous ESG focus – advancing best-in-class sustainability practices and advocating for them across our industry. Clarios is committed to sustainability and operational excellence. We work to ensure up to 99% of battery materials are recovered, recycled and reused. Clarios is a Brookfield portfolio company. About Altris Altris is a Swedish sodium-ion battery developer. We develop cathodes, electrolytes, battery cells and factory blueprints to create market-leading sodium-ion batteries. Sprung out of the Ångström Laboratory at Uppsala University, we are taking our patented innovation from conception to commercialization. Our long-term goal is to become the primary supplier of sodium-ion batteries in Europe, making a real impact on the world by enabling a better battery at scale.

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