Modular battery storage, bundled EV charging, and renewable coffee power are among the clean energy innovations being tackled by a bumper crop of Australian start-ups, selected for this year’s EnergyLab program.
As we reported here in February 2016, EnergyLab – which is the brain-child of Nick Lake and Piers Grove – is loosely based on a similar innovation in California, where the Australian co-founder of US solar leasing firm Danny Kennedy created SFun Cube, now known as PowerHouse.
This year, the government backed clean-tech accelerator scheme has more than doubled its intake, with a record 14 start-ups selected to join the program – demonstrating that energy innovation is clearly at a premium, even if innovative energy policy is not.
“This is our biggest cohort yet and these talented entrepreneurs with their innovative business ideas will help us provide better options to consumers and more reliable energy,” said EnergyLab managing director, Piers Grove, in comments on Wednesday.
“With the support of EnergyLab’s national partners Origin and Climate-KIC Australia, the future for these start-ups looks bright.”
EnergyLab, with the backing of principle sponsor Origin Energy, aims to nurture Australia’s home-grown entrepreneurs who are tacking fresh approaches to the way energy is generated, delivered and managed.
It gives the start-ups access to the $26 million Clean Energy Seed Fund, which includes a $10 million cornerstone commitment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, as well as the combined brains trust of the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
This year’s 14 start-ups were selected from more than 100 applicants, for their ideas designed to support cleaner energy generation, monitoring and trading, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, better waste management and new farming technologies.
Here’s a look at the 2018 14:
amber electric (Melbourne)
amber is an electricity retailer providing 100 per cent renewable at real-time wholesale prices. With real-time pricing amber wants to help consumers use cheap renewables when they are produced – saving money for customers and bringing more renewables online. www.amberelectric.com.au
Charge Cube (Brisbane)
The Charge Cube is an affordable, modular solar battery system targeted at the 1.2 billion people in slums without electricity. The device pairs solar panels with lithium-ion batteries made to be as small as possible, so as to be as flexible and affordable as possible. The system is also designed to be modular so that their capacity can increased over time. www.homecube.co/pages/chargecube
Cirlution aims to convert food waste into clean energy and heat using circular economy principles and bio futures technologies. Cirlution is being launched by the sisters and co-founders of The Circular Experiment, Australia’s first Circular Economy start-up. www.thecircularexperiment.com
Deposit Energy (Canberra)
A digitally-assisted service giving renovators a tailored investment solution to reduce electricity and gas bills. Deposit Energy will build and sell a digitally-assisted service which makes user-specific recommendations for equipment changes in any home. The benefits are lower bills, a more comfortable home, lower emissions, increased asset value, and almost always a positive cash-flow investment. Recommendations are specific to the make and model, and can include solar PV, batteries, upgrades to the building and more energy-efficient appliances.
Energy Switch (Canberra)
Energy Switch is an information hub that aims to make it easier for householders and small businesses to save money through changing the way their electricity is delivered. It helps consumers to either switch retail providers, switch to generating their energy with solar and storage, switch from gas to electricity, and to switch from petrol to electric vehicles.
ƒluxpower is an electricity payments network that rewards demand response in real-time. ƒluxpower provide accounts to electricity generators, retailers, and end users, and link their energy monitoring system to a Continuous Flow Payment (CFP) smart contract. CFP enables value to transfer from a consumer’s account to a supplier’s account continuously, perfectly in sync with energy transfer. Their solution eliminates cost of credit on bills, reduces admin and cost of electricity, and rewards demand response in real-time. fluxpower.io
Neverfarm is an autonomous, energy-efficient, renewables-powered, indoor commercial farm that aims to provide access to cheap, fresh organic produce, while also encouraging an end goal of
zero-waste. They aim to do this by automating the entire farming process to reduce costs and the environmental impact of the farming industry. www.neverfarm.com
Ohm Power (Melbourne)
Ohm Power matches homeowners with their best performing solar and/or battery storage system, using smart meter data, geolocational data, and input pricing costs for energy. The online platform also hopes to protect homeowners against high energy prices, and bad solar installations, by providing trusted advice and a milestone-based payment service. www.ohmpower.com.au
PowerPal is using a combination of IoT technology, big data analytics and artificial intelligence to roll out what it hopes will be Australia’s largest energy engagement platform and demand response network. Their goal is to eliminate energy waste for all Australians, reducing grid demand by 5 per cent. www.powerpal.net
re:Start is developing a mobile and on-demand electric car charging service. Users request a charge through the re:Start mobile app, a charging unit is delivered, it charges their vehicle, and is collected. By bundling a subscription to their service with vehicle sales at dealers, customers who are hesitant about the hassle of EV charging are able to have an experience more convenient than petrol and at a similar price. www.restartev.com
Sunshine Cycles (Brisbane)
Sunshine Cycles delivers solar powered and rechargeable electric bikes from self-serve pods positioned strategically in tourism and local community hot spots around Australia. Sunshine Cycles currently has 4 pods in operation and aims to scale its business with the assistance of EnergyLab’s Acceleration Program. www.sunshinecycles.com.au
Switch & Shout (Sydney)
Switch & Shout wants to help as many Australians as possible switch to clean energy. Through partnership programs with major brands and leading clean energy retailers, they will target consumers via an online platform, and make it easy for them to change energy providers.
Waste Ninja (Sydney)
Waste Ninja claims to be the first vertically integrated waste services provider, offering customers the opportunity to save on existing waste costs while ensuring their organic waste is converted to
biogas rather than ending up in landfill. www.wasteninja.org
Zero Impact (Melbourne)
Zero Impact will work with coffee shops, transport hubs, instant coffee factories, roasters and offices to collect and recycle coffee waste, by converting it into high-performance fuel that is cost competitive, carbon neutral and offers an eco alternative to coal and firewood. In addition, high-value compounds can also be extracted. www.zeroimpactenergy.com