LWOL Recap: Sean Collins on Feb 13, 2019

February 18, 2019 15:33 By Aaron

Edmonton needs to focus on the low carbon economy

Sean is the founder of Student Energy, and President of Terrapin Geothermics. Sean is one of very few local entrepreneurs to raise only Edmonton-based capital. 


Sean works in Alberta's low-carbon economy, an underrepresented area of our economy. Sean grew up in Fort McMurray and paid for his university degree by working in the oilsands and he feels that at some point in the future, Fort McMurray will be a ghost town and Alberta will need to transition to a more sustainable energy economy. In university, Sean started Student Energy to bring together like-minded student members. They have now scaled globally to teach people about energy topics in an entertaining way, and they have run events in multiple countries. "Although composting is great, we need larger scale initiatives to make an impact". Student Energy has since grown to 6 full-time staff. Their website now does about 5 million hits a year!


About two and a half years ago, Sean started Terrapin to focus on the geothermal opportunities in Canada. Sean believes that Alberta's diversification opportunities will come from things we are already good at. Geothermal includes drilling, reservoir operations, and other compatible operational strengths that Alberta can easily leverage immediately. 


Geothermal energy is the heat that is generated by, and stored within, the earth. By drilling below the earth's surface, this stored heat can be extracted and used to generate electricity. In fact, geothermal energy has been used since ancient Rome to heat homes! In Alberta, geothermal energy is a cost effective, environmentally friendly, and reliable source of electrical power. Terrapin is currently working on the largest geothermal project in Alberta history. 


Geothermal is an excellent source of baseload carbon-free electricity generation, which Sean believes is vital for future energy production, in Alberta and around the world. Alberta, in particular, has an incredible competitive advantage because of the existing skills that we have built over the last few decades while exploring the oilsand opportunity., and, unlike wind or solar, geothermal energy provides very stable electricity that can easily be used for baseline load in place or more conventional coal or natural gas power plants.


In the long term, when internal combustion engines are replaced by electric vehicles, how can Alberta remain competitive? According to Sean, 70% of Alberta oil and gas is turned into automobile fuel so this is an important question for the long-term growth and sustainability of the Alberta economy overall. Alberta is an energy producing province, and at some point in time, our energy industry will look very different. We can retreat and pretend that change isn't coming, but that doesn't make the change stop. That change might be 200 years away, or it could be 10 years away, but either way, the sooner we take steps to prepare for and create economic opportunities because of that change, the better the industry and Province will be in the short- and long-term. 


Terrapin has closed three rounds of financing so far on their journey. They used the Seed money to determine what they should sell and to whom. This information was used to help raise another two rounds, so far all with local Edmonton investor groups. Sean recommends that during your seed round, having an enthusiastic and passionate team with a strong long-term vision will help convince investors that you are a good investment choice. As they have matured as a company, the specific project details have become more important in helping investors understand the opportunity.

Join us next week to hear from Jim Ward.