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
The PM met Planet Innovation’s technicians on the line and learned how the SolShare technology works and how it is opening-up new markets for rooftop solar. The PM discussed with the manufacturing team the complex steps involved in the SolShare’s assembly and the types of skilled work involved in building smart energy products.
Allume Energy is proud that the SolShare is Australian Made and creating manufacturing jobs in Australia. As the SolShare is a world-first product that is opening up untapped markets for rooftop solar (apartments and multitenant social housing), we are also creating jobs in electrical trades and engineering.
The SolShare is one of many home-grown smart energy technologies that can help drive Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is growing recognition both globally and in Australia that smart energy technologies are driving an unstoppable transition of our energy system, and that this will create new industries and drive job creation for decades to come.
If you would like to learn more about the SolShare, contact us.
Thanks for your interest, PM!
ARENA has provided $220,000 in funding towards Allume Energy’s world-first solution that will enable The Salvation Army to on-sell any solar energy to other tenants within the building, all at no up-front capital cost to The Salvation Army.
By utilising the SolShare’s ability to share solar power to multiple units within a building, The Salvation Army will purchase solar energy under a ‘classic’ PPA, and on-sell any unused solar to the other tenants in the building for a profit under a secondary, on-selling PPA.
The Salvation Army will become the solar energy retailer within the building. Other tenants will have the opportunity to buy cheap, renewable solar energy from the salvation army and know that when they do, their money will be contributing towards their great cause.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the perfect candidate for solar energy: socially responsible organisations who can use the money saved on their energy bills to help their good causes. Often though, there are challenges for NGOs to gain access to rooftop solar: the capital costs are high and their premises are often in multi-unit buildings.
By using the SolShare, we easily solve the issue of supplying solar to multiple, separately metered units within a building – it’s our bread and butter!
But how do we overcome the capital cost that comes with installing a large solar system?
The answer is via a power purchase agreement, often referred to as a PPA. A solar PPA is where an external funding body will fund the capital outlay and maintain a rooftop solar system and sell the generated energy to the tenants within the building. The solar energy is sold at a lower rate to the energy that is supplied by the grid, therefore, generating a ‘win-win’ scenario where the PPA provider generates a return on investment by selling the solar and the tenants get cheap, renewable energy at no upfront capital cost by buying the solar. Simply put, at no upfront cost, a tenant can enjoy cheaper, renewable energy that’s been generated on the roof of the building.
This is a great solution but how can we make it more beneficial to the NGO and more appealing to the other tenants within the building?
We create a model where the NGO becomes the solar energy retailer.
By using the SolShare, we can direct the solar energy to the NGO, creating the highest savings for them. But instead of wasting any excess solar energy that they don’t use by sending it to the grid the SolShare will direct it to the other tenants in the building, who will buy it from the NGO.
It’s a fantastic solution that will not only make better use of the solar energy by maximising onsite consumption but will also generate revenue for the NGO, helping contribute to their good causes.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing $220,000 of funding towards this $1.04 million project. The funding will go towards the technical and legal development of the SolShare to enable the solar PPA on-selling functionality. More information can be found on the ARENA project page.
Allume will supply the SolShare and developing the solar sharing algorithm to enable excess solar energy not used by the NGO to be directed to the other units within the building. We will also manage the on-selling billing functionality via the SolShare.
Green Peak Energy is the project financer. They will fund the solar PV capital equipment and sell the generated solar energy from these systems to the NGOs under a standard PPA.
As a world-renowned organisation, The Salvation Army’s commitment to creating a better world cannot be understated. They have kindly agreed to install the first pilot system on one of their buildings in Glenorchy, Tasmania. The outcome from the pilot site will see The Salvation Army save money on their energy bills by buying solar energy when they need it and make money by selling solar energy to the other tenants when they don’t.
I Want Energy is one of the most established and respected solar installers in Tasmania. In their 10+ years of operation, they have installed over 3,000 solar systems, are Fronius Service Level Plus Partners, certified Tesla Powerwall Installers, and were one of the world’s first SolShare Installation Partners.
The unseen but key members of the project! The sub-buying tenants will be reducing their carbon footprint and saving money on their energy bills by buying solar energy from the NGOs when there is excess solar supply.
This ground-breaking solution is only achievable with the use of the SolShare’s unique solar distribution technology. As the world’s first behind-the-meter solar power division control system, the SolShare is able to distribute the solar energy generated from a single solar system to multiple, separately metered units within the same building.
Allume will develop the SolShare’s algorithms to enable the on-selling of excess solar energy to other units within the building.
As this is the first time that an on-selling PPA will be created via the SolShare, legal frameworks will be created to enable the other tenants within the building to buy the solar energy off the NGO.
Functionality testing will take place at the pilot site in Glenorchy, proving the concept for a wider rollout.
Following successful installation, The Salvation Army will be running the world’s first on-selling PPA, enabling them to be the solar energy retailer in their building at no capital cost to them. This will result in a fantastic list of benefits for all parties involved:
For more information or media enquiries, please contact us.
I have always viewed our product as having a global scope. Conservatively there are over a billion people living or working in multi-dwelling buildings who do not have an affordable and effective way to access rooftop solar. The vision of Allume is to change that, unlocking rooftop solar access for everyone.
To achieve this, we must take some big steps into the unknown. Launching into international markets for any size of business is challenging, risky and frightening; but as a startup this is emphasized even further. If approached the wrong way this aggressive growth can be a significant waste of time and money at best, or terminal for the business at worst.
In my opinion the key ingredient in a successful approach is support.
The support that is needed is not just people cheering from the sidelines, but others jumping the fence to join the team, play alongside and help you succeed.
This can come in many forms: investment; partnerships; joint ventures; licensing agreements; and many more. The important element of all these options is that you have people in that market that are invested in your success. Without that, launching in a new market would be near impossible for our stage of business.
For this reason, we enthusiastically applied to the Free Electrons program earlier this year.
With 10 of the world’s largest and most influential utilities driving the program, we saw a fantastic opportunity to find the support we needed to grow our humble little business, into a global powerhouse.
We were thrilled to be accepted into bootcamp stage planned to be based in Singapore. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to grow this was revamped into a virtual event. This virtual bootcamp was a truly unique experience and went a long way to recreating the experience of an in-person bootcamp, complete with virtual happy hours; virtual startup exhibition booths; virtual meeting rooms; virtual chill out zones and more.
During this week we met with 10 utilities across 10 different time zones, each for a 30-minute rapid fire pitch. To have access to this caliber of potential partners in such a concentrated time was an exhausting but highly valuable experience. Cramming years of market research into days.
Additionally, to do it all from the comfort of our home not only saved on travel costs but also allowed us to continue to work on our day-to-day business operations. In some ways despite this pandemic restricting our travel to within metres of our bed, the ability for us to form relationships across the world has improved.
At the conclusion of this event we were thrilled to find out we had been voted into the top 15 and would be invited to join the program.
Already this has led to us securing a pilot with Origin to collaborate on shared solar among their existing and prospective customer base. More can be read about our partnership with Origin in The Australian.
As we gear up from module 1 of the program (also to be held virtually) we are excited to explore what other opportunities may lie ahead.
Contact Allume to find out more!