Portable Solar Power Closing Mainstream Energy Gaps

As companies continue to invest in solar power, bring-anywhere gadgets make the technology even more popular

The support options for phone-addicted hikers are becoming greener and more plentiful. With a recent merger between two companies bent on providing sustainable energy, portable solar power may be taking a deep dive into the mainstream.

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Independent power giant NRG has purchased Salt Lake City-based Goal Zero, which produces portable solar power units. “It allows us to expand the opportunity of solar,” NRG president and CEO David Crane says of Goal Zero to the New York Times. “Our ultimate goal is to energize people wherever they are.”

Goal Zero, which produces a line of portable power packs, solar panels, and charging accessories, has grown from a humanitarian effort by founder Robert Workman into a cross-industry success. Originally designed to bring renewable energy, literacy, and employment to underserved communities in Africa, the products have been widely adapted for use by sports people, journalists, and explorers, as displayed in the company’s Ambassador program.

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While serving to help keep pace with its investment competitors in the sustainable energy field, NRG’s purchase of Goal Zero also brings two similarly green-minded firms together. As Crane explains on the company’s website, NRG aims to produce feasibly green energy with its accountability to future generations in mind; pairing with newer companies like learning thermostat-maker Nest and Goal Zero, he adds, is “only the beginning”:

We expect to be soon-to-market with a robust platform offering rooftop solar to homes and businesses and other forms of sustainable and clean generation that will offer our customers the ability to dramatically reduce their dependence on system power from the centralized grid.

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Greentech reported that NRG is splitting its company into three separate entities: NRG Business, NRG Home and NRG Renew. The NRG Home division will handle the retail business and the 3 million customers relying on NRG’s 47,000 megawatts of output capacity, including their solar panel installation, home energy supply, and electric vehicle charging.

While the Goal Zero’s purchase price has not been disclosed, its 2013 revenue is reported on Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list as $35 million. With convenience and mobility being topmost of consumer desires, investing in portable energy may prove to be in touch with both users and profits; “I don’t like to see those people sitting on the floor by a plug by a bathroom,” NRG Retail president Elizabeth Killinger tells the Washington Post. “I want people to be up and about living life freely.”

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As the NYTimes reports, “the deal could help demystify solar energy for consumers by giving them products that relate to their everyday lives,” according to Grape Solar founder Ocean Yuan; “Goal Zero really have done a great job in terms of consumer-friendly solar with portable chargers,” he says.

[h/t] Washington Post

Images: Goal Zero

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