Gavin Dietz, CEO of Wattwatchers, explores the changing nature of energy supply and demand in Australia, and the evolution of Wattwatchers in response.
"When it comes to electricity in our 21st century lives and enterprises, the old business maxim that you can’t manage what you can’t measure has never been more true.
Especially when the electricity market is so dynamic, with electrification and renewables surging, and net zero carbon a global imperative. Even more so when you are trying to manage multiple outcomes all at the same time, for example: energy productivity, cost allocation and optimisation, sustainability performance and emission reductions. Technology-wise, it’s an Internet of Things (IoT) world now, and Wattwatchers’ real-time data is crucial feedstock not only for digital solutions in the energy sector, but for other sectors too like Property, Banking, Industry 4.0 and Agriculture.
Wattwatchers was founded in 2007, when power prices were less than half of today’s levels. Australia only had about 7000 rooftop solar systems compared with over three million now.
The mission was to specialise in accurate, granular, real-time monitoring and control of electricity over the internet. The vision was always anchored in sustainability, with a focus on empowering electricity consumers with data to eliminate waste, boost efficiency and buy better. Optimising investments in new clean energy technologies - like solar then, and electric vehicles now - has followed quickly as consumer-side energy solutions have taken off. This is done independently of highly-regulated and technologically-rigid utility billing meter systems; and, unlike traditional supply-dominated electricity markets, it puts consumers, their data rights and their financial benefit front and centre.
When it published its first annual Impact Statement in 2021, Wattwatchers mapped itself against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), finding strongest alignment with six of the 17 - Affordable and Clean Energy, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Partnerships for the Goals.
Wattwatchers has recently calculated that every device it sells contributes to six times as many emission reductions as it creates, over a five-year operating life, although precise measurement is always challenging because there are so many different use cases: home and business energy management, solar optimisation, sustainability measurement and verification, commercial sub-metering, electric mobility services, industrial fault detection and predictive analytics, and more.
Thus, as an enabling technology for emissions reductions, it’s data - both real-time and historical trend data - which underpins Wattwatchers’ most important and positive impacts. While traditionally a hardware and firmware business, making and marketing ultra-compact EnergyIoT devices, Wattwatchers has grown its commercially open access, cloud-enabled solutions to support both in-house and third-party software applications, and most recently energy data as a service, an emerging category to further enable a digitalised and data-driven electricity marketplace.
Through its $10 million My Energy Marketplace (MEM) project, which will be completed in 2023, Wattwatchers is on track to create a major new dataset of 5000-plus homes, small businesses and schools. MEM data is available for sale to researchers and commercial service providers, and shows in unprecedented detail how electricity is being used, saved, generated and stored by customers, helping to pinpoint even more emission reduction opportunities. In 2022, Wattwatchers used its MEM dataset to show how using hourly measurement values for carbon accounting can increase accuracy compared with traditional annual-averaged values."