There’s a low-energy solution to home heating and cooling sitting right underneath most houses, but no one has been able to tap it until recently. That solution is geothermal energy, using the earth’s heat to provide temperature-controlled comfort to homeowners is the mission that Kathy Hannun set for herself while working at Google X (the skunkworks division within Google), and it’s been her goal when she spun out her technology as the startup Dandelion Energy.
Her company is now helmed by chief executive Michael Sachse, a former entrepreneur in residence at the venture firm NEA and a longtime executive at the energy management company, Opower, so Hannun can focus on pushing the technology she developed forward. Helping her advance the geothermal tech is a new $30 million cash infusion from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the fund backed by Bill Gates and a slew of other billionaires to provide financing that can commercialize the new sustainable technologies needed to help the world respond and adapt to global warming.
In Dandelion’s case, that means driving down the cost of installing geothermal systems from over $50,000 to roughly $18,000 to $20,000. The company partnered with Con Edison back in 2019 to offer Westchester homeowners $5,000 off their installations, and that project accounts for some of the 500 homes that are already using Dandelion’s system.
While the number of installations is small, Sachse and Hannun have ambitious goals and other strategic financial backers that may help them meet their targets.
Chiefly, the U.S. homebuilding giant Lennar is an investor in the company’s latest round, and their presence on the cap table could mean big things if Dandelion can get its systems installed in any planned new construction. Our goal is to be able to do 10,000 homes per year. When we think about getting to 10,000 homes per year wh, at that requires is for us to expand geographically,” Sachse said. “Lennar, which depending on how you measure it either the second largest or the largest homebuilder — they are not just an investor bu,t we are working with them on developing communities.”