Clean Energy Innovation Fund backs intelligent Zen technology to cut energy costs
30 April, 2018
Zen Ecosystems – which has developed intelligent energy management solutions that could save Australian businesses up to 25 per cent on their energy consumption – will soon get a boost from the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), through the Innovation Fund, has made a $5 million equity investment in Zen Ecosystems’ series B capital raising for the further development and deployment of its Zen HQ and Zen Thermostat products.
The Clean Energy Innovation Fund draws on the combined skills and experience of the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and invests using CEFC finance.
Innovation Fund Executive Director Ben Gust said the technology innovations and behind-the-meter management solutions offered by Zen Ecosystems could unlock major opportunities for reducing energy consumption for retailers, hotels and motels, schools, universities, car dealerships and fast food outlets.
“Traditionally, energy usage has been controlled by building management systems, which are usually only cost effective for large or industrial-use buildings,” Mr Gust said.
“Zen HQ is designed for smaller footprint businesses as a low cost, easy-to-use cloud platform for managing energy-intensive assets across single and multiple sites.
“Demand management is a critical part of the clean energy transition. We are pleased to support Zen Ecosystems in the expansion of this innovative homegrown technology. With this new wave of innovation and connectivity, controlling your energy consumption is now just a matter of checking in on your desktop or phone.”
CEFC transaction lead Kristin Vaughan added: “Heating and cooling are typically responsible for around 40 per cent of total building energy consumption, representing significant energy costs for businesses and consumers.
“We see there is enormous scope for innovative clean energy technologies such as these, which can help businesses achieve significant energy savings by managing their own consumption as well as lowering their carbon footprint.
“This technology also opens the way for individual users to participate in demand response initiatives, contributing to the continued stability and reliability of our energy system.”
The core products of Zen Ecosystems are the Zen Thermostat and Zen HQ. The Zen Thermostat is a smart thermostat that allows homes to remotely control and reduce their energy consumption. Zen HQ is designed for smaller footprint businesses as a low cost, easy-to-use cloud platform for managing energy-intensive assets across single and multiple sites.
Zen Ecosystems was recently named one of the Fast Company World’s Most Innovative Companies in the energy industry, highlighting its ability to help businesses more intelligently manage their HVAC and lighting systems to reduce energy consumption.
Zen Ecosystems’ US experience has demonstrated the potential of its technologies to save businesses thousands of dollars in energy costs and to realise investment payback in less than a year.
Zen Ecosystems CEO, James McPhail said: “We've already seen great traction in the market for our energy solutions and this round of growth capital, headed by the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, will enable us to aggressively expand our product roll out in both Australia and the USA.
“There are huge market segments, including retail chains with large portfolios of small to medium-sized buildings, crying out for smart, simple control of HVAC systems to reduce energy, peak load and maintenance costs, and Zen HQ is a simple and affordable solution to meet those needs.”
In Australia, Zen HQ is already being used by commercial customers such as the RACV, while the Zen Thermostat is part of the Telstra Smart Home range. Further development is underway to enhance compatibility across the broad range of heating and cooling systems used in the Australian market.
Zen Ecosystems is one of eight companies working with ARENA and AEMO as part of a demand response project which aims to remove electricity load from the grid and to keep energy supplies stable, reliable and affordable during periods of peak demand.
As part of the project, Zen Ecosystems will deploy a network of connected, smart thermostats in commercial buildings and households in Victoria and South Australia. The network will be able to be controlled by the Zen HQ cloud platform, allowing for the adjustment of set points of heating and cooling to reduce energy consumption when AEMO calls a demand response event.
The Clean Energy Innovation Fund has now made nine investments, committing up to $55 million across a range of innovative technologies, from electric vehicles to enhanced battery storage and innovative demand management drawing on a new Internet of Things (IoT) network.
*UPDATE: As at April 2019, the CEFC has invested more than $5.5m to further develop and deploy the Zen HQ and Zen Thermostat products in Australia and internationally.
ABOUT ZEN ECOSYSTEMS
Zen Ecosystems provides intelligent energy management solutions to businesses and consumers. Zen HQ is an energy management system designed for the unique needs of businesses and utilities to provide insights and control over multisite commercial energy usage while delivering the fastest payback in the market. The Zen Thermostat is a beautiful, simple connected device for home and business that also enables multi system operators to enhance the customer experience. http://zenecosystems.com/
Media release, 2018