A grant from the Victorian Government’s New Energy Jobs fund tipped the balance for San Francisco-based energy tech firm Geli in choosing between Sydney and Melbourne for its new Australian headquarters, according to its marketing and strategy manager Hilary Platt.
Another advantage of Melbourne is it puts the firm closer to potential clients, including “the most advanced” networks and retailers, Ms Platt said.
The company’s move into Australia has been due to a growing interest in energy storage, with its software technology working to enable the “internet of energy”, where multiple distributed energy storage systems can act together as a virtual power plant.
The office opened this week with a launch event attended by ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht, Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian small business minister Philip Dalidakis and Flex Australia’s managing director Wilf Johnston.
The company formed a partnership with Energy Matters (of which Flex is the parent company) following the award of an ACT Next Generation Storage grant late last year. Under the grant, the companies will work together with ACT installation firm Captain Kilowatt to install a heavily subsidised Geli-enabled energy storage solution on over 600 ACT homes and businesses.
Ms Platt said the project is currently held up due to delays in the onshoring date for the proposed battery brand, however other makes are being considered to enable the project to proceed.
“We are still waiting to see how it will move forward … the positive thing to come out of it is the relationship with Energy Matters,” she said.
Mr Johnston said. the energy management space was growing very fast, “and we are keen to leverage Geli’s platform to accelerate adoption of storage in the residential and commercial space”.
“The experience they bring from having deployed such solutions in other markets will definitely give confidence to our clients.”
The “Internet of Energy” technology being used for the ACT market includes the “Geli Jar”, a small device that is hardware agnostic, automates battery use and enables monitoring of solar self-consumption, time-of-use-shifting and the delivery of grid services for households, including feed-in.
The plan is now to expand the reach of its products beyond the ACT.
Five staff have already been appointed for the new Australian operations, including business development manager Jaime Robles. Four roles are still being recruited for, including senior software engineers.
The new HQ also received a boost with a US$3 million investment from the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund, a co-investment arrangement between the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Softbank China Venture Capital.
Mr Robles said the company sees great opportunities in the NSW, Queensland and South Australian markets as well as Victoria.
He said that gaining the greatest value from solar and storage was “absolutely about the software that’s making the hardware intelligent”.
One of the primary drivers for entering the Australian market is because of the high penetration of residential solar and growing uptake of storage, he said.
“In the residential market there is so much potential. The value of storage is really becoming apparent.”
At the launch, Mr Frischknecht told the gathering there was an increasing need for storage to keep the energy grid sustainable and to ensure all homes are getting the power they need.
In addition to domestic-scale technology, Mr Robles said the company was looking to launch a product for the utility sector. The software is currently being developed at the US headquarters, and will be potentially piloted in Hawaii.
“Hawaii is very similar to the Australian market,” he said.
Like the ACT, South Australia and Victoria, the state of Hawaii has gone its own way in terms of renewable energy targets that are more ambitious than its federal government.
Under the Hawaiian government’s proposal, 40 per cent of the state’s energy will be from renewable sources by 2030, and 100 per cent renewable by 2045.
“Geli has an incredible team dedicated to bringing advanced storage solutions to Australia,” Geli chief executive Dan Loflin said.
“From retailers to hardware providers, we look forward to building deep and successful partnerships in Australia and New Zealand.”