Green Tech: Soheila Yalpani of TerraScale On How Their Technology Will Make An Important Positive Impact On The Environment

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine
9 min readAug 5, 2021

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We hope that our model for renewable energy powered data centers will set the global standard. As sustainability becomes an issue of growing importance for companies around the world, we believe that more and more companies will choose to store their data in facilities that are green.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new editorial series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Soheila Yalpani.

Soheila Yalpani is committed to enabling the transition to a resilient, sustainable future. She is the Co-Founder and COO of TerraScale, a green technology company that is reinventing the future of digital infrastructure. Soheila is an entrepreneur with C-team leadership experience in operations, project management and development of large-scale infrastructure projects.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I’m always happy to talk about my childhood but I’m more of a “here and now” type of person, especially in my role as a female leader in tech- I prefer to share more of my personal life in terms of how it relates to and helps me drive TerraScale’s business and execute my job functions on a high level.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Danny Hayes, the CEO of TerraScale, and I had been working in and around green technology and data centers for several years, but could not have imagined the degree to which the events of 2020 would make the pillars of TerraScale’s business model — sustainability, resilience and cybersecurity — more important than ever.

My fellow co-founders, Danny and Philip Eggen and I, started our extremely future-forward, green tech firm, TerraScale, in March of 2020 just as the pandemic began. People thought we were making a terrible decision, starting our company at a time when the future was so uncertain.

Certainly, there was some paralysis in the business world during this period: we saw many companies at a standstill- struggling to adapt with the rate of change or plan for the future amidst such turmoil. We took a different approach, and chose to be doubly aggressive in our actions to push through the development of projects, formation of partnerships and expansion of our team. This philosophy was a key driver of our success.

Some of our first feedback from potential and current stakeholders, banks and partners was effectively that they considered our TerraScale a ‘triple black swan.’ Demand for digital infrastructure has grown as a result of the pandemic and the rise of 5G, IoT, AI and more. The need for renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure is greater than ever due to accelerating climate change-related disasters. Cybersecurity and Managed IT services are ever more critical as a result of increasingly frequent and devastating cyber-attacks.

Our company has grown rapidly and we have seen considerable excitement and interest in our company’s plans. We were very excited to recently announce, only a year since we were founded, our intention to go public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange via an amalgamation with Swiss company, iQ International AG. It’s been a fast-paced year for our team and we look forward to continuing to grow.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had a mentor very early on in my career who exposed me to the ins and outs of large scale infrastructure project management. From him, I learned the process of how a big project, like the development of a port, comes to life as well as the impact that these types of projects can have on not only the surrounding region, but on the entire nation. This experience was very impactful in terms of the direction I chose to pursue in my career.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

This quote speaks to the realities of entrepreneurship. There are inevitably numerous challenges and setbacks along the way. Ultimately each of these events prepares you to take on larger and more complex challenges.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Resilience: The more challenging your goals, the more obstacles you will inevitably face in achieving them. To stay the course, you will have to overcome the infinite failures and obstacles that will stand in your path.
  • Patience: Enticing stories of overnight success might be appealing, however the odds are not in favor of that kind of rocket-like trajectory. Success is often built over time, upon layers and layers of learning, experience, failure and setbacks.
  • Hard work: Talent and big ideas will take you only so far. At the end of the day, achievements are derived from the ability to buckle down and put in the hard work and effort required to see things through.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on the planet and the environment. To begin, which particular problems is TerraScale aiming to solve?

Our planet is facing unprecedented challenges, from surging data demands, growing climate change related natural disasters and the increasing rate of cyber security attacks. These are the core issues which TerraScale aims to address.

How do you think TerraScale’s technology can address this?

TerraScale places green energy, digital infrastructure and cybersecurity at the center of its data center development projects and solutions. Bringing together the best-in-class partners and service providers across technology, green engineering, cybersecurity, real estate, energy construction firms, and more. We’re really the only ones using cutting-edge cooling technologies, local geothermal power, alternative battery technology, and water saving techniques to make data storage sustainable for our data centers including our biggest initiative to date, Project Energos.

Project Energos is a program for a global rollout of 20+ carbon emissions-free data center campuses. Project Energos commenced with our pilot project, Energos Reno, which is currently underway in Northern Nevada. Our goal is that this will be the first large-scale carbon emissions-free data center via on-site power within the United States. It will feature off-grid renewable energy generation and storage and will utilize advanced battery technologies that enable for cost-efficient, long-term battery power storage. In addition, it incorporates features such as a cooling system that avoids heavy water use.

Not only does this design ensure the facility is truly green, it ensures that in the event of a natural disaster or cyber security attack on the grid, there will be no disruption to the power supply in the event of a blackout. We intend to replicate this model globally at future Project Energos locations.

In the context of challenges such as surging data demands as a result of the rise of AI, 5G, Edge Computing, IoT, digital content and more, increasingly frequent and severe climate change-related natural disasters and growing cyber security threats, the development and deployment of green, smart and secure digital infrastructure is more important than ever.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

While I was always aware of issues like climate change, the threats to our planet (and our species) used to seem very remote and intangible. However, in the last few years these threats have become manifestly more real and undeniable. This certainly adds a sense of urgency to our work.

How do you think this might change the world?

We hope that our model for renewable energy powered data centers will set the global standard. As sustainability becomes an issue of growing importance for companies around the world, we believe that more and more companies will choose to store their data in facilities that are green.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about TerraScale’s technology that people should think more deeply about?

Honestly, if that were the case I would not be involved. Everyone on our team is motivated by attempting to put in place projects and innovations that make the planet healthier and habitable for as long as possible, while at the same time enabling our planet’s staggering demand for data storage. We feel confident that the more areas and industries we can impact, the better off we will all be.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)

  1. Fail your way up: Failure is an unpleasant but necessary part of the process. Just because you are experiencing failure after failure doesn’t mean you are not progressing, learning and advancing. What separates the failures from the successes in life is your ability to persist through failure, learn from them and continue to pursue your goals.
  2. Be self-reliant: No one will achieve your goals for you. Be willing to do whatever it takes, work hard, take risks no one else is willing to take.
  3. Build a network: The larger and more ambitious the goal you are attempting to tackle, the more important it is for you to not only build a strong team of people around you, but to cultivate a strong network of partner companies to work with. Doing so enables you to leverage their expertise, global reach and experience. TerraScale has used this approach to maintain our lean, nimble team, while enjoying the market access and abilities of a much larger company. In this way we keep our speed in execution, but do not sacrifice on quality.
  4. Be adaptable: Don’t have so much tunnel vision when it comes to your goals that you are incapable of adapting to new circumstances. The world is not stagnant- everything from markets, technology, the environment is changing at an ever accelerating pace. To stay relevant and take advantage of the most prescient opportunities, be aware of what is going on in the world and be ready to pivot.
  5. Think Long-Term: Think long-term when it comes to the solutions or technologies that you are developing. What are the challenges our planet will be facing in ten, twenty or thirty years? Look ahead to create concepts that are relevant. Also think about long-term implications on the environment and on society.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

The effects of climate change and environmental degradation will impact everyone. It will exacerbate resource scarcity, hurt the economy, displace large populations of people and increase the cost and risk of doing business. In these circumstances, it is incumbent upon us, especially the younger generations that will live to suffer the long-term effects of climate change, to take action in the ways that are possible to us.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Chef Alain Ducasse, if he is making the meal.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow our progress on our website (https://terrascale.org/) and TerraScale’s social channels, where we regularly provide updates and the latest news on our company:

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

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Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine

Founder Nourish + Bloom Market | Stretchy Hair Care I Author I Speaker I Eshe Consulting I Advocate For Diversity In Beauty