Energy efficiency is often considered as the first fuel or the invisible fuel.
Energy efficiency only really started gaining a foothold in the 1970s and 1980s during the US oil crisis. Focus shifted on optimising the use of energy on the demand side. The state of California, for example, implemented special funding programs requiring utilities to actually buy energy saved from commercial customers.
It may seem irrational from a business perspective, as if you are shooting yourself in the foot. We mean a surefire way for a business to go bankrupt is to sell less of a product or service. Well, not really. Let us explain the logic behind it.
Taking a coal-fired plant as an example, there are a lot of losses. For every 100 units of coal you put in, you actually only get around 33% of useful energy out. Then add another 5 to 10% in energy losses during the distribution of that energy until it finally reaches its end use at the customer's premises!
However, these compounding losses in the electricity supply chain from generation to distribution become compounding gains if one can capture the energy efficiency opportunity at the demand point.
Every unit of electricity not needed at final end use reduces the need of primary energy input at the power plant such as coal or natural gas or even renewable energy. Energy efficiency always offers the lowest levelized cost of energy—by far—when compared to any other source of energy.
Energy efficiency is quite a broad term as it covers anything that uses energy from an electrical device to your home, office or factory. You can look at in singularity or at a factory / building level.
In today's world, there’s a massive drive towards energy efficiency due to climate change.
Improving the efficiency of how we use energy will go a long way in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only this, but we need to look at sustainable energy holistically. Energy efficiency needs to be included with renewable energy as a solution. The two solutions go hand in hand, as the more efficient your home or business is the less renewable energy capacity you will need and the less reliant on the utility grid you will be. Not to mention reducing the embodied energy of the solar PV system.
Get the drift?
Energy savings startups are one of the fastest growing industries in the world alongside renewable energy.
Let’s take a look at the top Australian energy savings startups.
Wattcost was founded in 2012 and is a Sydney-based technology company. Their core business is to make our homes more energy efficient, lower our energy costs and reduce our carbon emissions.
How, you may you ask?
Well, by using cutting edge smart technology and intelligent software. Bringing intelligence into the home environment.
Wattcost was founded by a group of sustainable energy and technology geeks passionate about making a difference to the environment.
Their “black box,” or should we say “black disc” solution in this instance, connects to your electricity meter in a matter of minutes via a wifi connection. It collects energy consumption in real time and uploads the data into the cloud.
Here AI and sophisticated software analyses your energy consumption patterns, using variables such as energy usage, time, weather and historical data to continuously identify savings in your home.
The system also includes a mobile app that shows you in real time once again your actual energy costs and savings, budget tracking and alerts.
The cloud-based analysis software learns your energy-guzzling habits, where the energy is going, and makes recommendations based on an analysis of all this data. It can even tell you if you’ve left an appliance on or left the fridge door open!
Some customers of Wattcost have claimed to have achieved 32% in energy savings over a matter of months!
Reposit was founded in 2012 and is a Canberra based startup. Their solution is to add intelligence to solar PV and energy storage systems in the residential segment with the aim of developing a distributed virtual power station.
Reposit truly is a holistic energy management system for the home environment.
Once it’s installed, the software gets down to business, tracking how and when you use your energy along with your solar PV systems generation of clean energy.
The system will allow the homeowner to track energy usage and costs, plus see your energy usage in real time. Reposit is also able to predict how much clean energy your solar PV system will produce the next day, and make informed decisions on when to start your dishwasher or washing machine. This approach will allow you to get the best value for your clean energy.
Have an energy storage system with that solar PV system of yours? Well Reposit is able to better manage when to use the stored energy in your battery system. Also when to charge your energy system, either from the grid or your PV system based on utility tariff rates.
Or when it should feed excess energy into the grid to further reduce your energy costs.
Reposit will only ever use the grid for charging or to provide power to loads as a last resort or when tariffs are at their lowest.
A “set and forget” approach is all that is required here to turn your solar PV and energy storage systems into working assets!
IoT is a global buzzword nowadays in the sustainability space and will change the way we do things.
Envision smart cities, smart homes, smart grids, you name it.
IoT technology will digitally connect electrical and mechanical devices, creating a distributed network exchanging Big Data and using AI to make informed decisions to optimise our world, making it a more energy efficient place.
Wattwatchers is a Sydney-based IoT startup founded by a bunch of sustainability and technology geeks.
They develop and manufacture compact scalable remote monitoring switches and sensors with software to include in energy management solutions. Their hardware includes embedded IoT communication that supports 3G, 4G, WiFi and ModBus/ModNet and a WiFi DRED communications that is future ready! One would think you require a Phd in technical jargon just to read the above.
Their systems are designed for behind the utility meter—to collect accurate, circuit-level data acquisition and switching independent of existing meters and systems in place.
Their energy data hub takes all this data collected via their remote sensors and uploads it to the cloud. Software is then used to analyse, package and present the data in a user-friendly, graphical way.
Their energy data hub is also able to facilitate integration with IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Wattwatchers devices are able to transmit over 100,000 energy data measurements a day, compared with 48 a day for a standard utility smart meter!
Now that truly is “Big Data.”
Expect to see their line of IoT hardware solutions rolled out to the smart grid, smart cities and smart buildings in the near future!
Big Data analytics and AI is a major disruptor and is set to change the world we live in.
Big Data analytics and the rise of AI have opened up many opportunities for improving efficiency and doing things more effectively. Energy is no exception here either, and major opportunities exist in this segment.
Ecologic is a small Australian startup based in Sydney and they are taking advantage of Big Data analytics and smart software to automate energy efficiency audits and building energy ratings. The software is designed for commercial and residential buildings.
So how does it work?
A walkthrough audit is completed of the facility and using the ecologic mobile app on a smartphone or tablet inputs the collected data. The audit details are uploaded to the cloud where the brains behind the system start getting to work!
The intelligent software creates a 3D model of the building and does all the required energy calculations and simulations in the background. It then pops out a detailed energy report on energy consumption, energy costs and even showcases the energy efficiency of high-performance properties.
The software can be used by solar PV designers to accurately size a PV system for a building, allowing building designers and architects to model performance of various building designs. HVAC engineers can also use the software to specify the size and estimate the differing operating costs of heating and air conditioning systems.
All in all, it’s a very powerful tool that can be used efficiently in the sustainable energy space.
The clean energy startup industry is booming in Australia.
The industry is moving at light speed using the latest technology to develop more intelligent automated systems that assist in reducing our addiction to fossil fuels, reduce energy costs and assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We need to include such technologies such as AI and IoT technology to analyse Big Data and look for trends and do things more efficiently.
These Australian clean energy startups might just be the next Google or Microsoft of the clean energy sector.
So watch this space for future developments in this fascinating industry!
If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!
Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV-panels.
Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.