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Don Moss and Zachary Butler

Global Green Energy in Tumwater has hardware that solar power system owners use to feed renewable energy into the electric grid. To find out more, I talked with Global Green Energy co-founders Don Moss, President and CEO, and Zachary Butler, Vice President.

How is Global Green Energy going to change the world? “Global Green Energy is a B Corporation, so our environmental and social responsibilities are very important to us. We’re creating a self-funded business model that will be sustainable. At the same, time we’re trying to make a positive impact on our country by manufacturing our solar module inverter here in the U.S.”

What makes your inverter different from others on the market? “We do a few things differently in the way we convert DC power from solar panels into to AC power for the electric grid. We use some unique firmware in our inverter that achieves higher efficiency in the inversion process. It’s more of a methodology and a way of looking at things differently than how people in the power industry have in the past.”

How much more efficient? “Where everybody else in the market is running 90 to 95 percent efficiencies, we run 98 percent. That means 98 percent of the power each solar panel produces is actually being fed onto the grid, instead losing the typical five to ten percent in the inversion of power from DC to AC. That’s huge.”

How did the inspiration hit you for this idea? “Don developed it while he was working on Waldron Island in the San Juans. Waldron is an off‑grid island — there’s no grid power there at all. In order to have power, he had to have solar. He created a solar-powered forge and weld shop, probably the only one in the world, and repaired boats with it. In that process, he came up with a better way to design an inverter.”

What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneurs? “We’ve seen explosive growth in the last three quarters, and trying to ramp up to full production has been a challenge. One of the biggest challenges is employee retention. It’s expensive to train employees, and turnover can seriously eat into capital. Another challenge is being able to grow rapidly and still maintain working capital and manage the new people. We overcome these trials by working together as a team and having employees take ownership in the company. We’ve avoided the revolving door syndrome so far and have happy employees who are hungry to learn as much as we can teach them.”

This article is one of a series by Denis Du Bois about participants in the 2012 Cleantech Open. Denis is a GeekWire contributor on energy topics, and a volunteer mentor to startups in the Cleantech Open.

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