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Australian solar monitoring duo crack US, Canada market

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The team effort of Sydney-based start-ups Solar Analytics and WattWatchers to corner the ripe-for-picking rooftop solar monitoring market is extending its reach to north America, after the team’s hardware was approved for installation in the US and Canada.

The hardware – WattWatcher’s award-winning Auditor energy metering device, pictured below – was hand-picked by Solar Analytics to pair with its internet-of-things software solution, developed in 2013 to fill what the company’s founders saw as a gaping hole in Australia’s otherwise world-leading rooftop solar market.

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Despite record per-capita rooftop solar uptake, data last year showed that only 5-10 per cent of Australian solar homes were using solar monitoring – a disconnect that Solar Analytics CEO Stefan Jarnason believes to be rooted in the perception that a $5000+ solar system should look after itself.

But as increasingly ‘connected’ consumers become more energy savvy, and solar uptake increases – while feed-in tariffs decrease, grid electricity prices rise and batteries come into the equation – this perception is rapidly changing.

And Solar Analytics and WattWatchers have been there to ride the wave, signing up more than 12,000 users in Australia so far.

“As more and more homes put on solar and energy storage, data becomes even more critical,” says Jarnason. “It let’s you decide when you should be charging the battery and when you should be using the energy in the home, and when you should be sending the energy back to the grid.”

As Jarnason explains it, the system works by installing a WattWatchers audito inside a customer’s meter box, which then feeds Solar Analytics with real-time energy data from both the solar system and their energy usage at home.solaranalytics

“We then take that solar data and that energy data and we process it in real time in the cloud, and we also take in live weather data and we put all of that together so that we can then give useful information, valuable information back to the home owner.

“We can tell you what energy you’ve produced, what you should have produced, and if (your system is underperforming), we can tell you what to do about it.”

Solar Analytics has since chosen to target the US market, and set up an office in San Francisco, in the heart of America’s top solar state, California.

Interestingly, Jarnason himself recently noted that more than 90 per cent of solar households in the US already had solar monitoring, and sometimes multiple monitoring systems.

But as the rooftop solar uptake continues to grow, the two NSW companies clearly believe there is room for their product in the north American solar monitoring market.

In the companies’ statement on Tuesday, Jarnason describes North America as a growth market for residential-scale solar PV, with a trend away from Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and leasing models to outright ownership by householders – more in line with Australia’s market.

And for WattWatchers, access to this market is being seen as a major step in the company’s growth strategy in 2017 and beyond.

“(The certification) opens the door for Wattwatchers to pursue additional opportunities in the North American marketplace for IoT, home energy management, and commercial and industrial sub-metering applications,” says the company’s managing director, Gavin Dietz.

“The convergence of clean energy and digital technologies is opening up a whole new world of cleantech applications that will empower consumers, save energy and money, and reduce carbon pollution. Independent high-grade data is a crucial element for this transformation period,” he said.  

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