Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, 10th November 2020
The way we make and distribute electricity is changing, and centralised power and the grid are having trouble finding a cost-effective solution.
Enter RedEarth Energy Storage. This Brisbane-based startup provides Australian made electricity storage systems to residential and commercial customers in Australia.
RedEarth builds high-quality, long-lasting solar battery systems and is dedicated to the longevity of its systems, with versatile and scalable products, vigilant remote monitoring and a network of trusted technicians.
“We see what we are doing as a big change in the electricity industry. We are moving away from the centralised power generation to the distributed power generation,” co-founder Chris Winter says.
“The fundamental thing that we do is make it easy to deploy our solution. Our system is all-in-one, making it very easy to deploy and install. It’s not just about screwing a battery to the wall, it’s about having hardware, helping it be installed correctly, monitoring the whole system and staying in touch with the customer moving forward.
“Although we manufacture a lot of hardware, one of our main focuses is actually managing data and from this data we are getting knowledge and benefits for our customers.”
Currently the use of electricity is based around peak times and the centralised power grid is now causing problems for delivering electricity.
RedEarth not only provides an alternative solution to centralised power, but in many cases a more economic one.
“You can imagine everyone gets home, turns the air conditioning on and cooks dinner. This is already a load and the whole network has to be designed to supply that load without tripping it. It gets pretty expensive,” Chris says.
“Then you add the thought of electric vehicles coming into the picture. Everyone gets home, turns the air conditioning on, cooks dinner and plugs the electric vehicle in to charge, that is putting even more stress on the grid.
“These sorts of things are making it more and more expensive to supply electricity from a remote supply with wires, so localised production and provision of electricity has fundamental advantages. Luckily for us batteries and solar panels are becoming more and more financially viable and are a technology that just works.”
Chris often compares the changes happening in the electricity industry to what happened in the phone industry.
“When we went from fixed line phones to mobile phones, it worked, was more financially viable compared to fixed lines and provided other benefits such as access to Facebook and Zoom. Mobile phones began to take over,” Chris says.
“We in the electricity industry are seeing the same shift right now, with a lot of opportunities coming from this massive industry shift.
“I love being in this space, it is very exciting being in an industry when there is a big shift happening. And we have something in the works that will soon become our biggest highlight.”
A recent collaboration has been with RedEarth and Enova Community Energy. The two companies have partnered to enable households to achieve 100% renewables through their own generation and storage, and boost the local community’s potential virtual power plant capability.
“There has certainly been an upshift in the demand for Australian made, high-quality battery systems that are designed to weather our environmental conditions. We are incredibly proud to be providing a first-class Australian solution as more and more households and businesses in Australia transition to our trusted renewables-based power,” co-founder Charlie Walker says.
Growth is also a huge part of the RedEarth story.
“Charlie and I spent quite a few years paying for stuff ourselves and then we started to get our products right, worked into it and figured out where the opportunities were,” Chris says.
“We now have approximately 80 investors on board, including the Queensland Government through the Queensland Business Development Fund. We were able to raise $4.75 million through this and with the Australian institutional and family investors. We were very happy with it and are currently in our next round of capital raising.
“Some of this money went into setting up our new facility in Darra, which is a much bigger space. We also put this towards R&D, getting capacity up, putting lines in, getting stocks and building up the inventory.”
The company is currently sitting at the break-even mark now, but they want to take it further.
“In the last eight quarters we’ve been growing at 30% per quarter. We want to be leaders in new technologies and continue this growth, but we need funding for this,” Chris says.
Moving forward the team’s goal is to become one of Australia’s leading companies in this rapidly developing market by leveraging technical and market expertise in this area.
“We want to be a much more recognised name. We are growing quickly but still have quite a small share of the market. We see this as an opportunity because we have a lot of room to grow and build on this share,” Chris says.