Although soaring electricity rates are making the switch to solar and batteries for households and businesses increasingly appealing, chief executive of home energy start-up Evergen, Emlyn Keane, told The Fifth Estate the technology still hasn’t quite hit the mainstream.
“People are still looking at the technology to see if it’s going to change, get cheaper, but we encourage people to get in early because you can still already get rebates on solar installations in many places,” Mr Keane said.
For the intelligent home energy systems supplier – the result of a working group between the CSIRO and AMP Capital, where Mr Keane was previously head of business operations property – interest in the still-new solar battery market is gathering momentum.
At Evergen, a company that has grown from a team of three to 16 in two years, this growth in interest has been felt through a sharp spike in the company’s deployments.
“It took a year and a half to deploy our first 100 units, and the next 100 units took three months,” Mr Keane said.
Although solar installations in Australia are at record level, battery connection to solar is “not happening at the same rate”.
Even though battery prices are continuing to fall, particularly since Tesla entered the home owner market, financial concerns continue to deter consumers, Mr Keane said. As such, the start-up has introduced financing options to help people make the commitment to solar battery storage.
Evergen provides a fully managed smart home energy solution that leverages CSIRO-developed machine learning algorithms to ensure the household switches between solar, battery and the grid in a way that achieves the highest possible efficiency.
The system takes into account both weather forecasts and household habits to target opportunities to save energy, essentially eradicating the manual work involved with optimising energy efficiency across a household ecosystem.
The offering also empowers consumers to see “how low they can go” in terms of energy savings, providing the user with an app that shows exactly what is happening across their household energy system.
Innovation in the grid needs to speed up
A key challenge for the company is the sluggish rate of innovation across the grid, Mr Keane said, with the “multiple stakeholders that have a vested interest in things” putting a handbrake on progress towards a more distributed, consumer-friendly energy system.
Evergen intends to leverage the opportunities that will emerge from the shift from a traditional, centralised energy network into a more distributed system.
Ultimately, the company is looking to aggregate battery technology across businesses and households, which will allow households or businesses to keep energy consumption down through mutually beneficial sharing arrangements.
These kinds of innovations will help solar mature into a more reliable source of energy, Mr Keane said.