Energy & Utilities

Forecasting winners and losers in emerging digital energy tech

16 Apr 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

The Australian Technologies Competition has seen a number of “ground-breakers, risk-takers, challenge-seekers and game-changers” in the Energy space, since its inception in 2012.

John O’Brien is Managing Director of the competition’s founding company Australian CleanTech, and is due to present at the Digital + Energy Summit this May in Sydney.

In advance of his presentation, John shares with us his remarks on some of the smart and ‘not-so-smart’ energy tech innovations he has seen during his time on the judging panel;  and what he believes it takes to succeed.

“When judging participants, we pay most of our attention to the business model”, he says. “Good technology is only 20% of a successful energy tech business. In order to be in a with chance of winning in this market, you need a good product but most importantly a brilliant model”.

John believes that a flawed business model is the reason thousands of promising smart energy technologies will never make it to market in Australia.

“There has been a lot of talk about blockchain in the energy sector”, he says. “But I don’t think anyone has yet worked out how it is going to work”.

The model (in which people generate and sell their own energy through roof-installed solar panels) is built on the premise that users can make secure transactions, independent of the energy market. But as John points out, the need for energy infrastructure to achieve this will mean that users are never fully independent of network providers.

Conversely, John has seen companies with simple products and strong models achieve great success.

He highlights Sydney-based company, Sunshift, who deliver relocatable solar solutions for use on mine sites. “Their technology is not world-leading, but they have integrated technologies in a really clever way”, says John.

“Their robust business model made them exceptional contestants in this competition. They have tapped into a winning market and are now delivering a strong solution through a viable model, in both Australia and export markets”.

John – who offers three month mentoring schemes and accelerator programmes for successful participants – will share further insights on what it takes to become a winning digital energy business at the Digital + Energy Summit – due to take place 21-22 May in Sydney.

Learn more and book your place here.

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