While many college students might spend their time playing Ultimate Frisbee or enjoying the nightlife, Darren Hammell and several other Princeton University classmates transformed an idea fostered in a dorm room into one of the fastest-growing businesses in the energy industry, creating jobs and inspiring innovation in New Jersey.
“The future is bright for alternative and renewable energy sources,” says Darren, who is now the executive vice president of business development at Princeton Power Systems, the company that dorm-room idea became. “With strong federal and state support, the initial cost of investment in renewable energy becomes more affordable each day, and the payback for these systems is improving dramatically.”
After placing first in the 2001 Princeton University Business Plan Contest with their idea, Darren and some colleagues founded PPS upon graduation. Since then, the company has strongly focused on renewable energy, and its products are designed to be compatible with solar arrays, wind turbines and energy storage, and they make those systems more reliable and efficient. PPS’ grid-tied inverters can be connected to solar power systems or wind turbines, enabling bi-directional power flow. The inverters serve the purpose of transferring the power generated by various renewable energy sources to the grid as useable electricity for consumption.
“As utility companies begin combining renewable energy systems with the electric grid, clean power will become a mainstream source of power,” Darren says.
PPS is currently installing a 200-kW solar array and advanced battery system on company grounds to provide clean power to its building and to showcase advancements in renewable energy technology to businesses, municipalities and utilities that may be curious about renewable energy projects.
The Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems program received support from the Recovery Act, and SEGIS funds have been awarded to PPS to help with the development of a grid-tied Demand Response Inverter. The inverter will improve the integration with the electric grid, and the project is bringing new jobs with it. PPS hopes to hire about 90 more employees within the next two years.