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Entrepreneurs

Startup Banks On Renewable Energy

By Johanna Cano, posted May 3, 2019
Emerging Company CATEGORY WINNER | KWHCOIN GIRARD NEWKIRK, CEO & founder | YEAR FOUNDED: 2017 | EMPLOYEES: 3 | Photo by Michael Cline Spencer
The idea to merge cryptocurrency with renewable energy resulted in the formation of KWHCoin, a blockchain-based renewable energy startup in Wilmington.
 
“Blockchain technology enables you to share information over the internet, and it allows you to connect peer-to-peer,” said Girard Newkirk, founder and CEO. “I’m a strong advocate of renewable energy. So in my thinking, if we could get sensors or some type of device on each renewable energy resource, then we can use the technology to connect them all.”
 
With KWHCoin, renewable energy can be tokenized into a KWHCoin, valued at 1 kilowatt per hour.
 
The company recently finished developing an app that works as an online wallet, where users can see their coin balance and trade, sell and buy energy.
 
One company goal is to provide affordable energy access that doesn’t require people to pay installation fees or monthly bills to energy companies.
 
“There are over 600 million offgrid households [in the world] that are in rural areas that have very high energy costs because servicing these customers is considered off-grid,” Newkirk said. “So we developed KWHCoin in part for social impact and in part to provide solutions for rural off-grid and remote locations so that they could get affordable energy access.”
 
KWHCoin worked on its first project in Wilmington through a partnership with Cape Fear Solar Systems and Sustain with Sound Music and Arts Festival, a zero- waste event held in April.
 
“For every kilowatt hour of energy that [Sustain with Sound] uses that doesn’t come from a renewable energy resource, they purchase a KWHCoin from us to offset their fossil fuel generated energy,” he said.
 
Last year, the startup had plans to install 50,000 energy systems in Sierra Leone and had a partnership in Kenya to develop a Nurse in Hand app that alerts paramedics to the scene of a car accident.
 
However, those plans have been delayed due to international friction points, he said.
 
“We have slowed down until we can vet all of these partners,” Newkirk said.
 
Meanwhile, the company has shifted its focus to local projects, including its coding and blockchain class at Cape Fear Community College.
 
The startup is also planning on hosting a sustainable technologies conference in Wilmington with the hope of highlighting the area as a hub for renewable energy, he said.
 
The startup has the goal of expanding its Coding on Cryptoroad program, which has the mission of offering free coding classes to underserved communities.
 
“We feel that there’s a lag in technology, innovation and an access to technology materials in underserved communities here locally,” Newkirk said. “We’re trying to get as many people in the community coding or with access to technology and resources that can provide high-paying jobs and present entrepreneurial opportunities.”

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