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November 21, 2014
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Big Data is Driving Adoption of Clean Energy

Hortonworks is pleased to be part of the “going green” movement and even more pleased to introduce guest bloggers from Actian and Slingshot Power. In this blog, Slingshot Power describes their use case on how Hadoop and analytics can influence and increase the adoption of clean energy use.

By Ashish Gupta, CMO & SVP Business Development, Actian

Recently, we announced with Slingshot Power their use of Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) and the Actian Analytics Platform – Hadoop SQL Edition. As Slingshot Power founder and CEO Ravi Chiruvolu writes in his blog post , this is not just another customer announcement. “What this is (or soon will be), is proof of how big data can be applied to dramatically improve our world,” he writes.

The integration of the Actian Analytics Platform – Hadoop SQL Edition with the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) has proven to be a very powerful combination as this use case with Slingshot Power highlights. HDP is used to collect and store large amounts of data from meter readings, solar panels, local government, Google Earth, National Weather Service and other disparate sources.

The Actian Analytics Platform – Hadoop SQL Edition is able to quickly extract valuable information from the collected data including household usage patterns, energy production analysis and the identification of target customers who had not previously used clean energy. The power of Apache Hadoop YARN, supported both by HDP and the Actian platform, helps Slingshot Power drive customer insights quickly and efficiently.

Harnessing Data to Harness the Power of the Sun

By Ravi Chiruvolu, CEO & Founder, Slingshot Power

Recently, my company Slingshot Power announced with Actian our use of the Actian Analytics Platform – Hadoop SQL Edition. (details here:

This is not just another customer announcement. What this is (or soon will be) is proof of how big data can be applied to dramatically improve our world.

I think many of us care very deeply about the planet we live on. I also think many of us care about clean energy. With the right catalysts, I believe more of us would jump at the chance to embrace clean energy to help keep this planet intact for future generations.

In fact, the catalysts are already there, and they have been for sometime. Big Data is one of them. Technology—in the form of Slingshot, Actian, Apache Hadoop, and Hortonworks—is another. The sun, of course, is another. Everything we need to make our nation more energy independent is readily available. The trick is getting everything to work together to turn information into intelligence that can be used to better our world. This is what our work with Actian is all about.

We’re not just looking to sell solar panels. We’re looking to inspire a national movement toward clean energy and green living. Every 15 seconds, the sun provides enough energy to power all of humanity for an entire day. So why are 99.7% of today’s households not taking part? The problem is information. It’s there, but it needs to be captured from our collection of Big Data streams and analyzed. With the knowledge we glean from this process, we’re able to clear two major hurdles in promoting the widespread adoption of clean energy.

The first is identifying the customer. With the Actian Hadoop SQL Edition, we’re able to pinpoint households and businesses around the country that draw the most energy and pay the most for that energy. We can identify those that own their real estate and have the required roof or ground space to accommodate solar. We can analyze the areas where solar is a viable option since the permitting process varies greatly from municipality to municipality. We can even determine which prospects can get which financing. The challenge is rapidly identifying the “needle in the haystack” customers for whom clean energy is a no brainer. With Actian, we’re able to identify a lot of needles.

The second hurdle is educating the customer. People are resistant to change, because change is unpredictable. And there is this perception that clean energy is very expensive. But with Hadoop analytics, we’re able to tell customers up front just how much they will save with solar power, based on their current electric bills, their typical energy usage, and a lot more. By arming them with relevant, concrete data, they have the confidence to make truly informed decisions. And with most solar investments paying off in the first five years (amounting to 30 years of free power from there on out while power bills for others continue to rise), most of the people we approach realize it’s worth making the switch. Once the customer is acquired, big data continues to work for us. We can help customers continue improving their energy efficiency, create roadmaps for timely and affordable replacement of inefficient appliances, and overall provide improved system maintenance.

Of course, all the information streams we tap create an intimidating mound of data. The data isn’t just constantly growing—it’s constantly changing. Gathering all this information and keeping it current can’t be done manually. And as good as we’ve gotten with our Excel spreadsheets, our analysis prior to Actian was time-consuming, limiting, and error-prone. With Actian, we’re able to tap scores of data sources and quickly convert that data into actionable intelligence. We did not need a data scientist. We did not need a lot of programming. It was simple to get up and running. And it’s affordable.

As a result, we can instantly compete with companies that have been doing this for years. We expect to grow 10-fold over the next 18 months and own the home not only as a technology/service provider, but also as an aggregator of valuable home data. We’re making inroads into verticals we didn’t know were economically viable. We’re targeting profitable geographies that other green tech companies have completely missed. We’re exploring permitting opportunities with municipalities that we now know are not friendly today but are moving toward being so. We know things about certain vicinities that local governments aren’t even aware of. With this level of competitiveness, we are by far the most qualified solar power company to be introducing the concept of energy independence to today’s homes and businesses. In a sense, the world needs us to be on the front lines, because thanks to big data and Actian, we stand the best chance of weaning the nation off dirty power in favor of clean power.

It’s good for Slingshot. It’s good for the customer. And it’s good for our planet.

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