Chalk it up to good timing, but after a week of renewed focus on soaring retail electricity prices, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has announced two new investment deals in “internet of things” technologies that focus on one of the easiest ways to reduce power bills – managing and cutting energy use.
In a deal announced on Thursday, the CEFC said it was committing up to $10 million in finance NSW-based company Thinxtra to scale up its monitoring and tracking technology that can connect billions of “low energy” devices to the internet, ensuring they consume as little energy as possible.
The technology, called Sigfox Low Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN), has already been adopted by moer than 150 local businesses, to create operational efficiencies including smart water meter service companies, and a smart logistics solution providers.
“Australia is a vast country with a scattered population. A large amount of energy is expended in physically monitoring millions of pallets, waste containers, gas canisters, farm gates, livestock and more,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth.
“Our finance for Thinxtra will help build essential support technology which is set to play a key role in transitioning the Australian economy to net zero emissions by the second half of the century.
“We’re talking about the potential to operate smarter cities, more energy efficient and liveable buildings, better monitoring of environmental assets, better health monitoring and more sustainable agricultural practices.”
Thinxtra CEO Loic Barancourt said the company was on track to have a network that covered 95 per cent of the Australian population by the end of the year.
“We will be the low power wide area network of choice for IoT and we’re aiming for 17 million objects connected by the end of 2022,” he said in comments on Thursday.
“Thinxtra’s IoT network provides the lowest device-to-cloud connectivity, at the lowest level of energy consumption and is complementary to Bluetooth, RFID, 2G, 3G, 4G and Wifi technologies.”
Earlier this week, the CEFC inked another deal, investing $2 million in up-and-coming IoT company Wattwatchers to expand production of its award-winning auditor device that helps consumers
control their energy use and costs.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said that high energy prices and rooftop solar’s high domestic uptake has provided the perfect back-drop to technologies that worked smarter with energy.
“Wattwatchers represents what we expect will be the first wave of innovative behind-the-meter technologies that can provide ongoing savings for householders and businesses, while delivering
information that can also improve the security and stability in the supply of energy from the grid,” Learmonth said.
Wattwatchers’ Auditor device makes it possible for consumers to see what is driving their power consumption, providing real-time data at whole-of-home and business and individual circuit levels.
“The Wattwatchers technology is small and very smart,” said CEFC investment development director, Blair Pritchard.
“We see Wattwatchers as a business that will complement other technologies to help Australians understand how they can consume energy at least cost.
“We also see real-time data access as an important development for rooftop solar owners looking to better manage their systems and on-site consumption. This means they can reap the most benefits from their own energy production, as well as storage and generation into the grid.”
The CEFC’s $2 million investment, through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, is part of Wattwatchers’ $4 million 2017 Series A capital raising. The first $2 million tranche is held by
Renewable Energy Venture Capital fund (REVC), which is independently managed by Southern Cross Venture Partners (SXVP) for co-funders the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
and Softbank China.
The $10 million commitment to Thinxtra, through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, is part of the company’s $20 million Series B capital raising.