A person installs a piece of equipment.
A person installs a piece of equipment.
October 4, 2023

Wells Fargo, Turntide relationship comes full circle with pilot program

California-based sustainability company Turntide participated in the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) program.

Turntide Technologies has big goals and an ambitious mission.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company wants to accelerate the electrification and decarbonization of energy-intensive industries by developing technologies that transform how those industries’ mechanical systems use and store energy.

“[We] saw this potential to merge the worlds of digital software with all the energy consumption that hadn’t been modernized,” Turntide CEO Ryan Morris said of the company’s origins. “As it turns out, electric motors, including those that power automation and heating and cooling inside buildings, consume about half of the electricity in the entire world.”

Turntide recognized the potential in some intellectual property that had been sitting on the shelf since 2007, for a technology called the switch reluctance motor. The company’s founders started thinking about how that technology could be used in various commercial applications, especially across three key industries: buildings, agriculture, and electrified vehicles.

By 2017 Turntide had developed several products, but it hadn’t conducted a paid commercial pilot for one in particular: its HVAC motor retrofit for existing buildings. That changed when the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) selected Turntide for its third cohort.

“IN2 is a $50 million program that the Wells Fargo Foundation funds in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL),” explained Robyn Luhning, Wells Fargo’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “It funds early-stage technologies that are addressing climate challenges. And not only does the program provide them with non-dilutive funding, but it also provides them with access to state-of-the-art facilities where they get to actually test out their new technologies and prove them worthy.”

Through its participation in IN2, Turntide tested its energy-saving motors at Wells Fargo locations in the Denver metro area and in Charlotte, North Carolina. Both pilots produced significant, verified energy savings — more than 50% average supply fan power reduction — after Turntide installed its motors.

“It’s one thing to show results in a lab,” Morris said. “But it’s another thing to conduct a pilot with a third party, a company like Wells Fargo, which helps to validate our technology.”

Wells Fargo is now exploring opportunities to deploy Turntide’s technology in more of its buildings. This innovation could help Wells Fargo make progress toward its 2030 operational sustainability goals, which include reducing energy use by 50% from 2019 levels.

“We need to work with a wide range of different people and problem solvers across the cleantech economy,” said Luhning. “By providing early-stage startups with both non-dilutive funding and technical expertise, we can be part of solving the climate challenge.”