Like most great inventions, Summerland’s Jai Zachary stumbled upon his idea for combined heat and power technology.
“Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention,” said Zachary, president of ElectroMotion Energy Corporation.
Zachary was having breakfast with the chair of Fortis and they began to discuss his energy costs and the idea of peak demand. Just a week later, an unforgettable cold day in December of 2008, the substation transformer in Summerland blew, cutting off power to residents. It was these two events Zachary credits for his idea to come up with the Revolution.
“I’m a bit of an energy hog,” said Zachary, recalling that cold 2008 day. “I have a hot tub, a rack of servers, in-floor heating and everything went dark and it started to get cold. My servers were offline and I couldn’t do anything. Not only that, my energy bill for gas and heat were going through the roof.”
Bills for Zachary were over $900 a month, and he knew there had to be some sort of solution.
“No word of a lie, I went out and bought a heat pump because that is very efficient. Then I went out and bought a home backup generator, which uses natural gas so when the power fails it will still run my natural gas furnace,” said Zachary. “They were sitting side-by-side and it was like the chocolate bar and the peanut butter coming together.”
The generator creating electricity and heat would keep the energy-efficient heat pump working. After conducting some experiments and investigating, he realized melding these two technologies would actually be a great idea.
“It was like wow this really works, there is something here. I went and searched the world for this and no one had done it. It just seemed so simple to me,” said Zachary, flabbergasted that no one else had thought of it. “My natural entrepreneur came out of me and I started it all off and invented this new technology.”
Revolution consolidates hot water heating, space heating, air conditioning and backup electricity into one unit. Through the new technology, there is a sharing of energy between the different systems, which increases efficiency, reduces energy costs and reduces green house emissions. Because Revolution provides onsite power generation, it reduces energy demand required especially during key peak demand periods. This could offer new hope to communities facing ever-increasing utility costs, said Zachary.
Zachary is sending Revolution to the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology in Ottawa to have it tested in twin homes against other technology. Another giant step for ElectroMotion is finding a community demonstration project to use a few dozen units; this way Revolution can be tested and demonstrated for homeowners, neighbourhoods and ultimately the community as a whole.
After three years of tireless effort building prototypes, gathering data, getting CSA certification and a global patent for the technology, Zachary unveiled his technology on Wednesday at a home in Summerland where the Revolution unit has been operating.
The District of Summerland has expressed an interest in the feasibility of being part of the project. Communities north of B.C. have also taken up a keen interest in Revolution. Jackie Jacobsen, speaker of the legislative assembly of the Northwest Territories and MLA of Nunakput, was at the press conference held in Summerland on Wednesday. He said some residents in his area face $1,800 utility bills.
Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino said it is thrilling that this new technology is Summerland based and the economic impact of having the growing business could create a number of jobs in the coming years. She said it also is a “significant opportunity” to showcase Summerland as a leader in alternative power generation.
“Initially we are going to be looking at building and having local manufacturing partners. One of our goals is to encourage local jobs and industry to benefit with what we have. We want to share our success with everyone,” said ElectroMotion president Zachary.
It is not the first time Zachary has been involved in a startup technology based businesses. He helped found Valley Internet Provider and IMG Resources.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur that just happened to stumble upon this huge problem we have globally. Just to get what I wanted, that is the joke of it,” laughs Zachary.