As the focus on climate change intensifies, the private sector is responding with solutions and investment opportunities. This is what the future of energy investment looks like for Australians, according to the CEO of sustainability solutions company, Evergen.

Evergen is a renewable energy software business founded in 2015 through a collaboration between AMP Capital and the CSIRO.

Evergen’s vision is to supply the best solar, battery storage and energy intelligence to protect Australians from the rising price of electricity. Its software is powered by and was developed in partnership with the CSIRO.

On the cusp of 2020, Evergen CEO Ben Hutt shares his aspirations, pet peeves and plans for the energy sector in Australia and overseas.

How does the Australian renewable energy market compare with its global counterparts?

Australia is in many respects on the world stage at the moment as far as the transition to renewables is going. We’re experiencing unprecedented bushfires in some states, rooftop solar penetration is reaching new highs1, and it seems all eyes are on how the network operators and others manage the integration of renewables into the old transmission network infrastructure.

With Australia’s enormous geographical footprint, sunny climate, and extremely complex regulatory and government structure, I think the world will be watching closely as we move into the next 12 months, and look to learn as markets evolve overseas.

This is helpful for companies like Evergen, as our heritage, our learnings, and our plans, give us a genuine opportunity to evolve into a global software business enabling this transition.

What are the biggest myths investors relay to you?

Batteries are uneconomical: This is not true if you consider the options on the market. For example, with Evergen software, we work towards optimising energy bill reduction and a large portion of our customers generate income from deploying solar and battery solutions.2

Climate change is not a thing: It’s pretty obvious given all the science that climate change is a genuine issue3, and that the time to take action is right now.

Scaling a business like Evergen is hard: This is true, but it’s by no means impossible. Focusing on Evergen as software that powers renewable energy assets, we are in discussions with businesses all over the world about enabling them to distribute Evergen software in the products they sell. These are progressing well and we anticipate shifting our revenues rapidly to be more focused on software and less on other activities.

How does price pressure work in the renewable energy space, is it favouring suppliers or consumers?

Solar and storage markets are interesting. We note a perception across Australia that the cost of hardware (solar and batteries) is coming down over time, resulting in an inertia with consumers at large and with businesses. In situations like this, the industry often responds by participating in a “race to the bottom,” which is why more than 700 solar businesses went out of business in Australia this year alone.

The problem for the consumer is making a good choice in a highly competitive price sensitive market. Important to choose someone you trust who will be around for a long time to look after you and ensure system performance in the long term. Evergen keeps its eyes on high-quality solutions, with a cost-competitive total life cost, using some of the most cutting-edge technology of our time.

What technologies can we expect to see enter the market in 2020 and beyond?

In 2020 we believe we will see the most electric vehicles in history sold in Australia. This will be an important issue for all in Australia as it will cause grid congestion issues and lead to greater instability in the short term for electricity prices and reliability. We are working with network operators to ensure that electric vehicles can become a useful resource for consumers but also add to network reliability.

We also believe that the interconnected nature of homes, with more and more smart devices being deployed, will allow smart energy companies like Evergen to optimise when things happen inside homes and businesses to enable greater energy efficiency, and allowing people to benefit from doing things at times of the day when energy is almost free.

More smarter appliances and transport, solar roof tiles and construction materials.

What is on the cards for Evergen in the short to mid-term?

We are enabling distributors of renewable energy technologies (solar and storage) to include Evergen software in the systems they sell and install across Australia.

We are working with distributors in the UK, Canada, and South Africa to include Evergen inside the systems they deploy.

We are working with network operators across Australia to orchestrate fleets of batteries into Virtual Power Plants.

We will be bringing to market for customers with batteries an energy service, that will allow us to maximise peoples’ ROI from their solar and battery solutions, saving them money and allowing them to make the most from their investment in solar and battery technology.

1 https://arena.gov.au/blog/rooftop-solar-passes-two-million-milestone/
2  https://www.evergen.com.au/savings/
3  https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/

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