Incorporating Spectral Utilities

Published on the 13th of July 2015

This past May, we incorporated our first spin-off as a limited liability company in the Netherlands. Spectral Utilities will focus on providing integrated micro utility systems that provide energy, water, sanitation, food, and shelter in systems that are sustainable and reliable.

In the beginning of 2014, our team had come to the conclusion that our first spin-off business would be focusing on revolutionizing basic resource provision. Water, energy, food, sanitation, and shelter are the basic building blocks of life. For billions of the poorest people, these services are either completely lacking or grossly insufficient.

Even for people living beyond poverty but in disaster-prone areas or based in cities with low resource resilience, basic needs like clean water can come under threat in no time.

The company was envisioned as an entity that integrated the best technologies from around the world to build reliable modules that provide micro utility services on demand. There are many companies focused like a laser on various resource innovations. Companies like Eguana are vertically integrating efficient inverters and smart battery technology. Victron Energy offers a wide variety of energy production and management systems. Geli Energy Operating System (Geli EOS) creates software that ties systems together. Trunz Water Systems develops a diverse line of modular water treatment technologies.

Thousands of companies like them are tapping into the demand for clean technology and bringing production costs down to competitive levels. Solar panels have reduced in cost almost 75% in the past five years. Lithium-Ion batteries have achieved cost reductions of almost 50% in the past three years.

Given our experience of designers and knowledge of systems integration, our goal is to work with great companies to integrate their products in more holistic products.

The process of building a company that can successfully achieve this vision wasn’t initially so clear. We began building resource modules for festivals while combining them with experiential installations. Festivals serve a community that is increasingly committed to sustainability. Combined with emerging regulations and, in some cases, a marketing strategy that seeks differentiation, festivals seemed like a great customer group to start with.

We began with compost toilets and mobile clean energy systems. Existing plastic toilets used at festivals were reliably poor experiences. We wanted to provide a more luxurious experience while teaching festival goers about the valuable nutrients in human waste.

Dozens of festivals in the Netherlands had the opportunity to offer the toilets at their festival.

We modified an old horse trailer into a mobile energy unit that integrate solar panels, batteries and inverters, and smart energy management systems.

After the 2014 festival season with our first energy trailer, we started work on our second energy trailer. We began development of the Solar Transformer in early 2015 in preparation for the 2015 festival season.

The Solar Transformer is effectively a mobile solar power plant, capable of powering stages at festivals, water filtration modules at refugee camps, or small construction operations. When it isn’t in use, it can plug back into our office in Amsterdam and provide us with solar power.

Our first festival of 2015 was at DGTL. We used the Solar Transformer to power an interactive bike race inside. The race included four stationary bikes placed inside of geodesic dome laced with LED lighting. The setup utilized customized electronics and software to create the experience. As the winning cyclist took over the other players, the dome would change their color.

Spectral Entertainment, the branch of Spectral Utilities that works with festivals and events, has the philosphy to bring people into the future. Sustainability is naturally part of such a future, as we will have evolved to providing and managing our resources differently. But experience and fulfillment take primacy.

As we build Spectral Utilities as a micro utility business serving a global market, we will continue to bring our customers into the future and collaborate with the world’s most promising tech firms to change the way we manage resources. To learn more about Spectral, visit our website.

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