Activity is ramping up in Australia’s residential energy management sector – part of the “internet of things” that is widely considered to be a key ingredient for mass uptake of distributed renewables – with the launch of a new solar and battery storage optimisation platform from tech start-up Evergen.
Evergen’s technology, which was developed by the CSIRO and has been backed by AMP Capital, uses a household’s power consumption patterns and weather forecasts to decide when to use solar power, when to store it, and when to draw from the battery or the grid, according to what is the most cost-effective for the household.
The system, which is remotely managed by Evergen and regularly analysed and updated by CSIRO, is expected to deliver a 20 per cent cut on energy costs, on top of savings from solar and battery storage.
According to Evergen, this means customers using their technology with rooftop solar and storage can save a total of up to 60-80 per cent on household energy costs, as well as extending the life of their battery, through optimised management.
The Evergen system joins a variety of other “internet of things” offerings from fellow Australian companies, including Reposit Power, WattWatchers and GreenSync. US inverter and energy tech company Enphase also offers a sophisticated energy management platform with its battery packs.
At the moment, Evergen’s technology is limited to a number of beta versions, available to customers as part of an early release program. But a second-stage release program is expected to be rolled out in January 2017.
This will be partly funded by investments from both AMP Capital and its former chief executive Stephen Dunne – now a board member of Evergen alongside CSIRO’s Alex Wonhas – who have put a combined $2.9 million into the venture.
This, combined with the CSIRO’s $800,000 investment, means Evergen – whose research is based out of CSIRO’s Newcastle Energy Centre – has raised a total of $3.7 million to trial and refine its system before commercial release.
So far, the units have been trialled in a number of Australian homes for a period of 12 months and are subject to rigorous and ongoing safety and performance testing in collaboration with CSIRO.
Evergen says the cost of its technology is competitive with comparable solar and battery solutions and includes the solar panels and battery units as well as the intelligent management hardware, home consultation and installation.
“Distributed energy technologies such as rooftop solar are the biggest growth areas in the market globally, and upcoming new technologies will completely change a market that has operated the same way for decades,” said Evergen CEO Dr Glenn Platt.
“We are already working on a range of product innovations, which will add new options to the Evergen smart system during the next five years,” he said.
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.