The “internet of things” energy management solutions of Australian company Redback Technologies have been tapped for use in a trial in the United Arab Emirates, in a major win for the company that could open the door to the massive Middle East and North Africa market.
The Brisbane-based company said on Thursday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with UAE company Duserve FM, to provide solar energy management and monitoring for a 12 month “sustainable city” pilot project.
Duserve, a wholly owned subsidiary of emerging UAE city Dubai South, wants to position the city – which is projected to grow to a population of one million– as a global example of sustainability, powered by mostly renewable energy.
As part of the trial, Redback’s energy management technology will be applied to 20 commercial and 20 residential properties, during which it will provide real-time data and insights into energy usage.
Redback uses its software to channel excess solar energy – or cheap grid energy – to smart appliances or batteries for storage, optimising home and business energy consumption. The system also has machine learning capabilities to learn from user habits and control energy depending on expected weather changes.
If the Dubai South pilot is successful, the parties have agreed to explore a further commercial arrangement to exclusively distribute Redback’s hardware and software solutions in the UAE and throughout the MENA region.
The potentially lucrative partnership was set in motion a year ago by an initiative of Trade and Investment Queensland; the state government agency that assists local businesses in breaking into emerging and established markets. And it was more or less locked in after visit to Dubai by Livingston in September 2016, as part of a Queensland government trade mission.
It also follows a number of wins in the Australian market, including the October 2016 signing of a $9.3 million deal with EnergyAustralia, through which Redback’s web-based smart energy platform is offered to EnergyAustralia solar customers.
But Redback founder and managing director, Philip Livingston, told RenewEconomy that the UAE project is a particularly “big deal” for the company, offering its first step towards overseas expansion and a huge opportunity to showcase its innovation in the region.
“It’s the first time that we’ve actually ventured into doing something overseas,” Livingston told RE over the phone on Thursday, “and it was actually a result of the really hard work of Queensland Trade and Investment.
“One year ago, almost to the day, we made a pitch, and Dubai South was in the room. From that point on we’ve been in fairly intensive negations. What we have now is an MOU, that takes us into a pilot, that should result in a partnership to take the technology to the MENA region.
“We’ve opened ourselves up to a massive market, with a very large government-owned partner.”
Livingston says that the CEO of Duserve FM, Sam Taleb, has also been critical in the progress of the deal.
“He’s been insanely passionate about it, because he can see how technologies like this can change everything. That kind of mentality is something that is contagious,” he said.
“This is our first time being taken seriously by a foreign government and it’s a good sign that we’re on the right track,” he added – as is the fact that the company has grown from having a staff of 14 people, to 52, in the space of just one year.
“This contract will only increase this number as we continue,” Livingston said.
As for Duserve, CEO Taleb said in a statement on Thursday that Redback was selected as a result of its software intelligence and the company’s outstanding innovative capabilities.
“When I saw Redback Technologies at last year’s Queensland Innovation Summit we immediately wanted to engage in discussions with the company,” Taleb said.
“Redback Technologies have had lengthy discussions with Duserve FM and Dubai South over the past few months and we are excited about this collaboration and the potential for the outcomes of this collaboration to support vision and goals of Duserve FM.”
Rollout of the project is set to begin in June, with the potential to be expanded to include more commercial and residential properties in future, the companies said.