Future Grid: Why Australia Is Proving Grounds for Renewable Energy

Australia is among the most advanced countries worldwide when it comes to renewable energy, making it the ideal proving grounds for Future Grid. This Australian-based startup has developed a SaaS-based solution to help electric utilities manage the vast amounts of new data coming from  electric vehicles, solar panels, and other renewable energy technologies.

“We designed Future Grid to fill the visibility gap, bringing together real-time data and insights from smart meters so electric utilities can better manage the accelerated transition to renewable energy,” said Chris Law, co-founder and CEO at Future Grid. “This will help utilities continue to provide safe, reliable electricity services in regulatory compliance as renewable energy emerges.”

Law, who has extensive experience in the energy industry, co-founded Future Grid to meet the unique demands of utilities that weren’t fully utilizing all the data from their smart meters.

“We wanted to help utilities quickly manage data for their industry-specific outcomes,” he recalled. “Now as utilities have been increasingly challenged by the transition to renewable energy, our service is becoming even more important.”

Data Insights Improve Operations

Future Grid collects and analyzes real-time data from smart meters, whether its usage data from the consumer’s electric car, home solar panels, or other sources. Customers are primarily in Australia, but Law has set his sights on global expansion in sync with renewable energy market growth prospects.

“Smart meters from renewables are a rich source of information. Use correctly, utilities can improve services with measurable results for consumers and the organization itself,” said Law. “We’re providing a feedback loop from the grid edge into the utility’s core operational systems, helping the company make better decisions to improve core operations in the grid.”

Safety Benefits for Customers and Consumers

Future Grid addresses one of the major challenges utilities face as renewable energies are deployed at scale: voltage management. While invisible to the consumer, utilities strive behind the scenes to deliver electricity at expected and regulated voltages. The dirty secret about renewables is that the energy they generate can wreak havoc on the grid unless it’s accurately captured and analyzed.

“The benefits of renewable energy are starting to be well understood in Australia,” Law said. “We’re helping utilities use the data they’re collecting to manage that transition. They can better understand what’s going on with their network assets so they can maintain voltage levels, and potentially save lives.”

According to Law, Future Grid’s utility customers rely on the solution to predict voltage problems, guarding against potential injury or harm. In one case, the software flagged a voltage issue and the utility dispatched field crews who arrived at the home just as the consumer was on the phone reporting the problem to the company.

SAP.iO Paves the Way for Valuable Partnership

Far more than the typical analytics tool with colorful graphs and charts, Future Grid’s insights are even more powerful when integrated with SAP Asset Intelligence Network and SAP Predictive Asset Insights. Law was excited about working with SAP after the Future Grid co-founders participated in the SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv utilities accelerator program. Initial collaboration efforts include integrating Future Grid’s asset health monitoring solution into SAP.

“SAP and Future Grid are a natural fit. SAP is one of the foundational vendors in the utilities industry, and we share many customers,” said Law. “If our analytics reveal a problem with a network asset, this can raise a ticket to generate a work order in the SAP system for faster response and resolution. We’re very grateful for SAP’s expertise in helping us workshop use cases to best solve our mutual customers’ biggest problems.”

Future Grid is available on SAP Store.

Learning from Australia’s Energy Lessons

Law predicted ongoing momentum for renewable energy worldwide, creating infinite opportunities for Future Grid. That’s because utilities need to be ready to collect and manage a tsunami of data from smart meters and other renewable technologies as uptake grows.

“In Australia, we’re already rolling out renewable energy technologies at scale, where utilities have realized the considerable impact on the existing grid,” he said. “Unlike consumer apps, you have to be in the energy industry for the long haul. With perseverance, along with great mentors and partners like SAP, we’re now well positioned in the right place at the right time.”

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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.