Melbourne startup GreenSync powering energy markets of tomorrow

As a wave of change disrupts the world’s energy markets, a Melbourne energy tech start-up is leading the way to a greener, more efficient future.

GreenSync develops software that enables electricity distributors and retailers, as well as industrial and commercial facilities, to more efficiently manage their energy resources. As a result, these providers are able to reduce the need for additional investment in costly infrastructure.

Earlier this year, GreenSync helped launch a world-first digital marketplace that promises to change the way energy is traded and consumed by households.

A changing world

GreenSync CEO Phil Blythe says energy markets are traditionally very large, centralised and brittle. But in countries around the world, that’s now rapidly changing, with Australia leading the charge.

“The world is heading into a totally new realm of decentralised energy infrastructure and distributed markets, where houses generate as much as they consume and grids are used as local sharing networks,’’ says Dr Blythe.  

“And Australia happens to be at the forefront thanks to the world’s highest penetration of rooftop solar energy.’’

Food for thought

Dr Blythe uses food as an analogy to explain how energy will be traded in the future: “We don’t centralise all food sales in one place,’’ he says.

“We have local food markets—niche, boutique markets that are smaller and closer to consumers, but can transact just like big markets do.

“There’s no particular advantage to big markets. In fact, smaller ones can better deal with the specific needs of local areas. In energy that’s really important, because of big geographical differences. For example, there’s plenty of solar in North Queensland, but not much in Tasmania.

“And where there are distributed resources—battery storage systems in people’s homes, solar on rooftops—these need to be an integral part of the local grid, not just at the fringes.’’

deX – a game-changer

In February, a consortium of Australian energy players, including GreenSync and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, launched deX—the Decentralised Energy Exchange. This is a world-first open marketplace where the energy generated by solar panels and stored in battery packs can be traded between consumers, businesses, communities and utilities.

The Victorian and ACT governments are among those supporting the project, which will initially be piloted in these two states.

Capital raising

In January, GreenSync raised A$11.5 million in a Series B capital raising, including A$5 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation via the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

Explaining the decision to invest in GreenSync, the CEFC’s director of investment development, Blair Pritchard, described GreenSync’s software as “the brain and spinal cord” of the smart energy grids of the future.

Dr Blythe says the capital raised will enable GreenSync to continue expanding into overseas markets.

“We’ve had a regional base in Singapore for the last 12 months, and we’re rolling out projects across Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific,’’ he says. “Now we are also looking at projects in North America and Europe.’’

Melbourne is home

Despite GreenSync’s global ambitions, it will always be based in Melbourne—the world’s most liveable city—says Dr Blythe.

“One of the key things Melbourne has going for it is that people want to live here,’’ he says.

“People want to start businesses here, and keep them here. And people want to move here, which makes it easier to attract and keep world-class talent.

“We now have a regional office in Singapore, and we’ll establish bases in other parts of the world, but we’ll be be remaining headquartered in Melbourne.’’