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Tech Startup — Skyhook Solar: Solar-powered Charging Stations for E-bikes and Electric Cars

Skyhook Solar  

WHERE: Carbondale

WEBSITE: www.skyhooksolar.com

FOUNDED: 2019 

 

INITIAL LIGHTBULB  

With a background in the Aspen hotel business, President and CEO Daniel Delano came out of a brief retirement to co-found Skyhook Solar with Chief Product Officer William Gilmore. He didn’t want to sit on the sidelines in the face of climate change. 

“I became increasingly concerned about climate change, and that led me to look at the solar energy space and ultimately to Skyhook Solar,” Delano says. “We created the Skyhook Solar Station, and initially that was used to charge EVs in prototype. A year later, we deployed the first EV-charging solar station at a public school.” 

That station is still operational, but Skyhook has since focused on e-bikes, working with PBSC Urban Solutions to supply solar stations for WE-cycle’s bike-sharing program in the Aspen area beginning in 2021. 

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IN A NUTSHELL 

Skyhook’s D4 Solar Stations (which sell for $28,000, minus a 30 percent federal tax credit) in Aspen and Basalt were “the first solar-powered e-bike docks anywhere,” Delano says. “The solar stations include a microcomputer and large batteries that allow us to charge when the sun’s not shining.” 

“In 2020, we introduced e-bikes into our fleet,” says Mirte Mallory, co-founder and executive director of WE-Cycle. “At that point in time, we were changing batteries back at the shop, and it became very apparent that it wasn’t scalable. It was not cost-effective or operationally efficient.” 

But Skyhook’s technology was eminently scalable. WE-Cycle now shares 420 bikes (153 of them e-bikes) at about 80 stations in the Roaring Fork Valley. For 2023, 10 of those stations are solar-powered Skyhook products from Aspen to Carbondale.  

“It went from impossible to scale and not value-aligned to possible to scale and mission-aligned,” Mallory says. “Our e-bikes are now 100 percent solar-powered by the Colorado sun.” 

Skyhook Solar currently assembles its products in Carbondale, but Delano says he is looking to open a manufacturing facility in Grand Junction. The company is in growth mode as it looks to supply municipalities as well as bike-sharing companies and
nonprofits. 

“We’re in a number of other cities now on a pilot basis, including Detroit and Montreal,” Delano says. “The transition is just beginning in bike-share to electric bikes, so we see Skyhook Solar being in many cities in the U.S. and Canada in the next couple years. We’re also looking at expansion into Europe.” 

Skyhook is releasing a new EV-charging station with a three-kilowatt solar array in 2023 that’s 50 percent larger than the D4 Solar Station. 

“The EV transition is absolutely necessary if we’re going to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, and one of the necessities of that transition is the infrastructure,” Delano says. “In many places, it may be easy to add a plug or two to a parking lot to charge EVs, but in other places, it’s very expensive to connect to the grid if you have to dig trenches across sidewalks and streets.” 

He also notes that the stations are great for remote areas without electrical service, or where connection costs are high, and installation is notably user-friendly. “It deploys in an hour and it can be moved, so it has flexibility if you need to move it.” 

THE MARKET 

“We haven’t gotten to the point where EVs are dominant in the market, but California and New York have fairly strict laws that mean EV sales will be phased into 100 percent by law by 2035,” Delano says. “There is a need to convert from gas-powered transportation to electric, and there’s a need for infrastructure. It’s a matter of all hands on deck now.” 

FINANCING 

Delano says Skyhook has raised funds from friends, family and angel investors. The company began pursuing a seed round of $2.5 million when it graduated from the Endless Frontier Labs program at the Sterns School of Business at New York University in May.