It was fantastic to be involved in the Energy Transition Summit in Sydney, Australia last week, which focused on the critical need to transition to sustainable energy systems, the very real challenges ahead and the collaboration across sectors that will be required on a scale that has never been seen before.
It was both a sobering day, being reminded that we have less than nine years to achieve net zero, and a day full of opportunity, highlighted by inspiring talks and reminders about this country’s potential, including for example that Australia receives approximately 10,000 times its energy consumption needs in solar radiation each year.
I spoke from the perspective of a growing business using technological innovation to solve a very real market need. For those of you that do not know Allume’s history, we were born out of a Melbourne based start-up accelerator in 2015, and today we are a rapidly growing international business with product installed in Australia, the US and the UK.
Allume’s vision is a world where everyone can access clean and affordable energy from the sun. Specifically, we are making rooftop solar accessible to multi-dwelling buildings through a world first technology called the SolShare.
In the session, evolving with the market, our panel spoke about the evolution of environmental, social and governance issues, aka ESG, being propelled to the top of the corporate agenda.
Allume was founded on very strong ESG principles. In particular the E, the reduction of carbon emissions, and the S, energy equity for all in particular social or community housing which is a key market for Allume in Australia, the US and the UK.
The real estate sector is a big carbon emitter and therefore presents a great opportunity for impact. As a business working at the coal face of providing solutions, we have born witness to the increased ESG focus from the real estate sector over the last five years. In particular, there has been a palpable acceleration in focus on ESG metrics over the past two years.
1. An evolution of community expectations and social drivers, which is feeding into investors’ expectations shifting from pure profit maximization to sustainable value creation. Many pension and superannuation funds are demanding ESG benchmarks for investment which is translating to a focus on ESG in the real estate space.
2. A generational shift as millennials start to take positions of power in industry.
3. Companies linking executive remuneration directly to ESG performance. According to industry reports released last year ~20% of S&P 500 companies in the US, ~45% FTSE 100 companies in London, and 81% of ASX 100 companies in Australia link remuneration of executives to ESG outcomes.
For Allume historically the return on investment drove the sale of the SolShare. But now the drivers that lead to a sale are increasingly around ESG and sustainability metrics.
For example, In Australia the SolShare helps commercial and apartment buildings meet the new National Building Energy Rating Scheme standards for on-site renewable energy generation.
California has a ‘solar mandate’ requiring all new multifamily buildings up to three-stories in height have solar.
And in the UK, the SolShare, improves an apartment building’s performance against the Energy Performance Certificate for brownfield sites and the Sustainability Assessment Procedure for greenfield apartments.
People are starting to think about real estate differently. Historically a building was a stagnant piece of infrastructure but now there is an opportunity for technology to provide insights into a building, whether that be energy efficiency, waste, or patterns of use by those that live and/or work in that building.
What you do not measure you do not know about and therefore you cannot change. Recently I heard of a large commercial building in a major city centre that had a significant water leak for years that went undetected until technology starting measuring and reporting on consumption metrics.
It’s almost like the buildings will start to come alive and be contributors to the community around them.
In addition to the commitment of industry and cleantech companies such as Allume, we need clear guidance and support of government at the state and federal level. Because what was abundantly clear from the energy transition summit is that we are going to need all hands-on deck to face the massive challenge of a sustainable future for Australia and the world.
Led by Taronga Ventures and The Schmidt Family Foundation, $6 million in new funding positions the company for international expansion into North American and European markets
(MELBOURNE, Aus.) – Allume Energy, the developer of a world-first solar sharing system, has announced the close of an AUD $6 million Series A round that will accelerate an expansion into international markets and grow its Australian operations.
Co-led by Taronga Ventures’ RealTech Ventures Fund and The Schmidt Family Foundation, the investment represents a commitment to tackling the carbon footprint of the real estate industry that will help to unlock solar energy for historically hard-to-reach multi-tenanted buildings, such as apartments and business offices.
Allume’s SolShare system is the world’s first solar distribution system that can scale the benefits of rooftop solar for the tens of millions of apartment buildings across the U.S. and Europe. The SolShare system removes the barriers to entry for multi-dwelling residents and allows solar providers to offer shared solar.
To date, more than 50 systems have been installed across Australia and the product has been certified for installation in the U.K. and the U.S. Allume’s installations are estimated to have saved in excess of 24,000 tonnes of CO2, with the company looking to achieve lifetime savings of over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 by early 2022.
“As demand increases for renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar, a huge proportion of the population risks being left behind in the energy transition,” said Cameron Knox, Allume co-founder and CEO. “At Allume, we are committed to breaking down barriers to rooftop solar to provide cheaper, cleaner energy to underserved communities across the globe.”
The financing will accelerate the company’s growth and expansion, which will drive the creation of thousands of clean energy jobs globally. In the U.S, Allume is delivering solar with no upfront cost to affordable housing with support from non-profit Elemental Excelerator, as well as expanding to the large multi-family market on the West Coast. In the U.K, Allume is working with Centrica-backed SNRG to provide rooftop solar to public housing in Greater London and newly built apartments across the region.
According to Jonathan Hannam, Managing Partner at Taronga Ventures: “Global real estate investors and institutional capital are now focused on driving sustainability through their underlying real estate portfolios. Thus, we are constantly looking for world leading emerging technology companies – like Allume – to help deliver our sustainability goals.”
“From a technical perspective, Allume Energy delivers a unique technology that allows the owners of multi-tenanted buildings to share solar power across tenants,” said Dr. Sven Sylvester, Investment Director at Taronga Ventures. “We are looking forward to working with our real estate partners to achieve their net-zero goals through the installation of Allume Energy’s technology.”
“Cities are where the vast majority of the global population resides, and many of these people live in multi-family buildings,” said Jamie Dean, director of impact investing for The Schmidt Family Foundation. “This venture helps democratize renewable energy access by ensuring that clean, distributed solar energy is accessible to renters and owners alike. The distributed power production facilitated by Allume’s technology also makes power grids more resilient, which is of huge importance.”
The investment round is also supported by Trawalla Group, the family office of Alan and Carol Schwartz.
More information about Allume Energy and the SolShare system is available at allumeenergy.com.
About Allume Energy
Melbourne-based Allume Energy has developed a system that can deliver solar energy to apartments and businesses in a simple and affordable way. Their Australian Made technology, called the SolShare, enables the power generated from a single rooftop solar system to be shared between multiple apartments or businesses within the same building. Allume Energy won the Clean Energy Council’s Innovation Award in 2020, is a portfolio company of Elemental Excelerator and an alum of Free Electrons and the Melbourne Accelerator Program.
About The Schmidt Family Foundation
Established in 2006 by Wendy and Eric Schmidt, The Schmidt Family Foundation (TSFF) works to advance the wiser use of energy and natural resources and to support efforts worldwide that empower communities to build resilient systems for food, water, and human resources. Through community-, market- and technology-based approaches, TSFF promotes an intelligent relationship between human activity and the planet’s natural resources.
About Taronga Ventures, the RealTech Ventures Fund and RealTechX
Taronga Ventures, through its RealTech Ventures Fund, is a technology and innovation investor focused on innovation for the built environment. The Fund is an institutional venture fund that invests into globally scalable entities that will enhance or challenge the way real estate is designed, procured, financed, developed and managed across all sectors. The Fund is focused on developing a diverse portfolio covering sustainability, design, materials and software and provides capital, mentorship and global networks for those companies in which it invests, as well as first mover advantage for the corporates that participate in the Fund. Taronga Ventures has extensive experience across global markets and asset classes and is supported by strategic and institutional partners across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. RealTechX is Asia’s first government supported, industry-focused independent scale-up program for companies impacting real estate and the wider built world.
For media enquiries relating to Allume Energy:
M: +61 413 766 792
For media enquiries relating to The Schmidt Family Foundation:
Director of Communications, The 11th Hour Project/The Schmidt Family Foundation
M: +1 718 569 2629
For media enquiries relating to Taronga Ventures:
Managing Partner, Taronga Ventures
M: +61 402 444 170
Allume Energy was founded in 2015 out of one realisation and one idea. The realisation was that the price of rooftop solar was dropping year-on-year, and would inevitably be attractive to all electricity consumers. The idea was that it would be possible to setup an “electricity retailer on your roof”, i.e. rooftop solar for no-upfront cost, to compete with the grid.
The company has evolved a lot since those initial concepts. We narrowed our focus to apartment residents and multitenant buildings. And we developed a world-first technology, the SolShare, that can address this market, because we realised there was no existing way of serving these customers.
Now we have come full circle. Allume has been featured in an article by Duncan Murray in The Fifth Estate on our new partnership with Sunshine Coast-based energy retailer LPE where we are providing rooftop solar at no upfront cost to apartment residents. This innovative model means that apartment residents can opt-in to LPE’s retail electricity service and have solar power included on the same bill. This drives down electricity costs for apartment residents, and improves the environmental credentials of the apartment building.
Damien Glanville, CEO of LPE, is quoted in The Fifth Estate on the challenges of rooftop solar for apartments:
“Putting on a single solar system for every apartment, which we have done, is too difficult and it’s too messy. You’ve got too much equipment that typically you don’t have the space for.”
The Allume SolShare is the solution to this problem. By sharing one rooftop solar installation for multiple customeres in the same building, it removes the need for each apartment to have its own PV inverter. It also ensures that there is maximised consumption of solar onsite. Furthermore, as the SolShare can turn solar on and off to specific apartments, its pervents the stranding of assets due to churn if a customer moves out of the building.
For apartment residents, it’s a straightforward way to contribute to a greener future, and save money on their electricity bills at the same time.
If you would like to learn more about the Allume’s SolShare technology, contact us.
An apartment building in Turner is the first to go solar with a new Australian-made technology. The 20 residences in the Focus Apartments on Gould Street now share one rooftop solar installation thanks to SolShare technology invented by Melbourne-based Allume Energy and installed by ACT solar installer SolarHub. Residents will enjoy lower electricity bills and help decarbonise the energy grid.
“We’re thrilled to be the first in Canberra to install an Australian-made solar sharing system that benefits owners and tenants alike. It’s a win-win!” said resident and OC Executive Committee member, Deborah Purss.
Allume Energy’s SolShare is a patented technology that allows one set of rooftop solar panels to be shared by multiple residents in the same building. The SolShare constantly monitors customers’ energy demand and sends solar power to the apartments when they need it the most. This maximises the use of solar power in the building and reduces electricity bills by as much as possible
“The SolShare was invented with Canberra in mind. Lots of mid-rise apartment buildings with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. We look forward to bringing our World-first solution to established and new-build apartment buildings throughout the nation’s capital” said Cameron Knox, CEO of Allume Energy.
Over 50,000 Canberrans live in apartments, with new apartment complexes being constructed around the light rail corridor and town centres.
“The SolShare means we can bring rooftop solar to customers that previously couldn’t access it, including apartment buildings and shopping centres. This Aussie invention is a game-changer for the industry” said CEO of SolarHub Benn Masters.
Allume Energy is pleased to announce that their SolShare technology is the first Power Division Control System (PDCS) to become UL certified. The SolShare is the world’s first behind the meter solar sharing technology for multi-family homes and apartments, allowing multiple consumers to share the benefits of a single rooftop solar array. UL certification allows the SolShare to be sold in the US, unlocking a significant new market for Allume. This technology was initially developed in Australia for three-phase grids, but now includes a split-phase model to meet the requirements of the US market.
“Achieving UL 1741 certification for the SolShare is a huge milestone. It is very satisfying to have a global leader in product safety put their stamp of approval on our product,” said Allume Energy’s Chief Technology Officer Kristy Battista “This provides the green light for deployments in the US market, and will also assist in our broader global expansion.”
UL is a leading global safety science organization, and one of the most recognized marks representing safety and trust. The SolShare has specifically earned certification to UL 1741, the Standard for Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use With Distributed Energy Resources.
“At UL, we believe in safety through science, and as experts in this field, we work with manufacturers to build trust in the safety, security and sustainability of products. We congratulate Allume Energy on the certification of the SolShare and applaud their priority on product safety”, said Francisco Martinez, business development director of UL’s Energy Systems and eMobility division.
UL certification involved the SolShare being subjected to a variety of testing, including high temperatures, removal of ventilation, abnormal overloads, short circuiting inputs and outputs, inducing failures in specific electronic components, dielectric strength, ground impedance, static load and environmental ingress. All of which it successfully passed.
“To confirm that the SolShare continues to operate, or shuts down in a controlled manner when exposed to operating extremes that are rarely experienced in the real world provides further validation of Allume’s thorough design and internal testing approach,” said Ms. Battista.
Allume Energy has already made significant progress with US-based implementation partners, and the UL Mark is a major milestone in unlocking the market potential for shared solar in multi-family buildings in the United States. There are 22.2 million occupied multifamily units in the United States, of which approximately 75% have the roof space for solar. This represents a US$75 billion market opportunity.
The future is bright for Allume Energy!
About Allume Energy
Allume Energy’s vision is a world where everyone has access to rooftop solar. To make this happen, Allume Energy developed a world-first technology – the SolShare – which allows one rooftop solar installation to be shared by residents in a multifamily home. This helps families reduce their electricity bills and carbon footprint.
In 2020 Allume Energy won the Innovation Award from the Clean Energy Council, the peak cleantech industry association in Australia. Allume Energy is a portfolio company of Elemental Excelerator and a finalist in Free Electrons 2020.
Allume Energy was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.
Media: Alex Marks, +61 413 766 792 email@example.com