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Why Wattwatchers is celebrating GreenSync’s deX progress

by Murray Hogarth
posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Murray Hogarth: On My Watts

The team at Wattwatchers are firm believers in the transformative virtues of an energy tech start-up and scale-up ecosystem.

That’s where we know we can play most powerfully, because no single company or technology is going to fix the problems of ‘old energy’ on its own. Nor will any one player own the ‘new energy’ space.

Together, however, many players can drive the energy transition to Grid 2.0 faster and more cost-effectively. By integrating where they have compatible technologies, collaborating where they have complementary business models, and still competing robustly where they are unambiguously market rivals (it’s a vast market, nationally and globally, and many can prosper side by side as well as head to head).

For some, all of these relationship permutations will be possible as the solutions ecosystem evolves and expands.

This is not a zero sum game. Succeeding in unison will expand the opportunity pie for everyone. But failure to continuously grow this ecosystem is likely to disadvantage everyone on the ‘new energy’ side, and prolong the domination of ‘old energy’ incumbents. Entrenched laggards gain time whenever the tech upstarts consume their energies and limited resources by battling among themselves (although more progressive incumbents can advance their own causes by playing positively in the ecosystem themselves, even if embracing disruption gets unsettling at times).

Of course, not everyone in the energy tech world sees things the same way. Some are intent on building ‘verticals’, with data ‘walled gardens’, where hardware, cloud infrastructure and user interfaces are all locked inside proprietary solutions. Such companies make partnering the exception rather than the strategy. I suspect we all know who they are.

The good news is that there are a number of standout pro-ecosystem players. Also, the stronger the ecosystem and its committed players become, the more that everyone will be compelled to participate, and that will make it even stronger again. It’s a virtuous circle kind of thing.

The rise of the deX

All of which brings me to GreenSync and tonight’s (October 25) landmark event in Melbourne: part celebratory party, and part practical work opportunity to flesh out progress on its world-leading Decentralised Energy Exchange initiative, which we are all getting to know as ‘deX’, and to declare it ‘Open for Business’. As a formative digital marketplace for energy capacity, mapping strongly to distributed energy resources (DER) and demand response, deX is 100% an ecosystem platform for the ‘new energy’ era.

GreenSync consciously inserts the language of collaboration and the ecosystem into every deX interaction: ‘Firstly we would like to thank you for coming with us on the deX journey as one of the first integration partners,’ they told Wattwatchers this week. ‘From its inception, everything about deX has been a collaboration, so this is a shared celebration.’

Today’s announcements ahead of the evening deX event include the news that Wattwatchers is in line to be one of the first energy management solutions in the world to integrate with the emerging deX software (second behind Tesla). Our team is delighted, and we congratulate GreenSync on the progress they’ve made, with much more to come in 2019 as this globally groundbreaking model moves to become an active market reality.

This post will be updated with more materials as they become available. You’ll find Wattwatchers’ media release here, Renew Economy’s story here, GreenSync’s media release here, and you can download the deX White Paper here.

A bit of relevant ecosystem history

Wattwatchers first met the GreenSync founding duo Phil Blythe and David Anstee circa 2012. We were both semi-finalists in what was then called the Cleantech Open, now the Australian Technologies Competition, and also in a startup tech competition run in Australia and New Zealand by US mega-conglomerate General Electric and its then Ecomagination division.

Even then, GreenSync was running ahead of Wattwatchers in terms of startup development, and it also was clear from the start that over time we were more likely to be collaborators than rivals, with complementary rather than competing technologies and business models. That depended, of course, on both of us surviving the so-called ‘valley of death’ for startups – especially six or more years ago in Australia, when investment support for energy tech was in desperately short supply. (Back then I recall dubbing venture capital in Australia the great oxymoron, neither venturous nor having any capital, though happily this has improved somewhat.)

GreenSync had ecosystem qualities from early on, and I like to think so did Wattwatchers. GreenSync was mainly software, with some in-house hardware for commercial and industrial demand management; while Wattwatchers was mainly hardware and firmware for home energy management, with a software agnostic model that began as a necessity – early on we simply couldn’t support expensive software development, and lacked the skill-sets internally¬† – but which has now become a core business strategy (we call it our ‘Energy Data Hub’, through which Wattwatchers ‘works with’ an expanding app partner mini-ecosystem).

In 2015, GreenSync won the Energy Award in the Australian Technologies Competition; and Wattwatchers went on to win the rebadged ‘New Energy Award’ in 2016.

GreenSync secured its $11.5 million Series B capital raise early in 2017, led by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Southern Cross Venture Partners (SXVP), and then SXVP and the CEFC split a $4 million Series A investment in Wattwatchers later the same year. GreenSync was one of the first into the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) A-Lab innovation program in 2016, from where the deX idea emerged and GreenSync won ARENA grant funding to breathe life into the concept; then Wattwatchers participated in A-Lab in 2017, which helped to consolidate our still-evolving ‘Energy Data Hub’ model, building on our inherently partner-friendly, software agnostic approach.

As you can see, we’ve tracked each other through the ecosystem, and we’ve always kept in touch, biding the time when real collaboration would become a compelling opportunity for Wattwatchers and GreenSync. With the advent of deX, it feels like we are getting there. Long live the energy tech ecosystem!

 

Murray Hogarth is Director of Communications and Community Networks for Sydney-based Wattwatchers, which started life in 2007 when the idea of an energy tech ecosystem in Australia was only a dream.

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