In a market finally – and rapidly – coming to terms with the huge importance and value of smart home energy management, Australian company Evergen might be entitled to an “I told you so.”
Since launching its CSIRO-developed solar and battery storage optimisation platform in 2016, Evergen has been on a mission to help customers minimise their energy bills, preferably down to zero.
“We’ve always known that with a wide range of optimisation algorithims we can create massive returns for home owners,” says Evergen CEO and managing director Ben Hutt.
“I believe that people who buy solar and a battery and an EV should have free electricity for life,” he tells One Step Off The Grid.
Not because they shouldn’t have to pay for grid power, but because with the right-sized solar and battery system paired with Evergen’s intelligent Control solution, they shouldn’t have to use much of it.
And for that power they do import, the smart management of their energy assets – super cheap rooftop solar generation, battery storage in homes and electric vehicles – should be able to cover the costs through services to the grid.
Savings of up to 26.4% more
Evergen’s technology, which is offered free of charge to consumers via a range of residential battery providers, is now in use at more than 10,000 sites around Australia, the vast majority of them are homes.
The software uses a household’s power consumption patterns and weather forecasts to decide when to use solar power, when to store it, and when to draw from the battery or the grid.
These days, Evergen is one of a growing number of companies offering this sort of smart energy management service. Its platform, however, has been honed by its developers, including the CSIRO, over years of application – including a major government-backed trial in Queensland.
The result, says Evergen, is customer energy bill savings of up to 26.4 per cent greater than standard solar and battery systems – potentially reducing bills to zero.
And it continues to be upgraded.
Evergen meets OpenSolar
Just last month, Evergen announced a major new partnership with OpenSolar, to boost the efficiency of its HEMS platform further.
OpenSolar’s free, 3D rooftop solar design tools will be paired with Evergen’s software, which includes an inbuilt return-on-investment calculator, and automatically added to quotes generated with compatible battery and inverter combinations.
While OpenSolar provides high level rooftop solar design accuracy, Evergen’s cloud-based battery optimisation connects to a multitude of hardware devices from different manufacturers, making it easy for installers to manage different makes and models from a single platform.
“OpenSolar is great partnership for Evergen,” Hutt says, adding that it will be good for solar retailers, too, promising to boost battery sales in a market still sceptical of the returns batteries can offer.
Busting battery ROI myths
“It’s not true batteries don’t make payback,” Hutt tells One Step.
“What Evergen’s always believed is that storage behind the meter … is very important.
“But it requires software like Evergen’s to connect and control things at the end of these long network cables.”
“We partner with over 100 of the best and biggest sales companies across Australia, they’ll quote, sell and then install a battery in the house, connected to Evergen,” Hutt says.
“We see ourselves as kind of like a safe pair of hands for someone with a goal for energy independence for the life of their system.
“Over time we’ll work with the household to connect other devices, and can even recommend an energy tariff that suits them best,” he says.
“Ideally, we will also be making those consumer assets available to the grid… as a whole, collaborating with the networks and [the Australian Energy Market Operator] to make these generation sites available to them when they’re needed.”
Ultimately, it is this sort of service – of making visible and useful what has been invisible and inaccessible to network companies and AEMO – is where Evergen expects to make its money.
“We believe that the market, the system, the retailers – the big end of town – should pay us,” says Hutt.
To consumers, meanwhile, Hutt has this message.
“Solar feed-in tariffs are going to zero in three years, so all the electricity you generate through the day you’ll be either giving to the grid for free, or paying to give to the grid.
“With the right size solar system and the right size battery you can have zero energy bills, if not make a profit.”