Adelaide-based startup Oxamii has developed a smart grid software platform that enables residents, community organisations, and businesses to buy and sell energy from renewable sources in their local community.
Launching in South Australia and Victoria, the startup has partnered with Adelaide energy company Circular Energy to be the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) approved electricity retailer for what is being called ‘The People’s Grid’.
Oxamii co-founder and chief executive Aaron Yew says the platform gives customers easier access to clean energy from nearby commercial and residential generation sources, which can be traded at competitive prices.
“The vision for our company is to build a decentralised grid; that means shifting away from big energy with large, centralised generation sources to a decentralised, community-focused grid like rooftop solar, small-scale generation, batteries and electric vehicles,” Yew tells SmartCompany.
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The People’s Grid acts as a three-sided marketplace that includes customers, renewable generators and energy groups referred to on the platform as ‘collectives’, which range from sports clubs, charities, and community energy groups, to housing developments or groups of family or friends.
Collectives register on the platform by creating a profile page on Oxamii’s website and selecting the local renewable generators they want to source energy from, such as a local solar or wind farm or a nearby resident’s rooftop solar. Collectives then invite residential and small business customers to join and create their own energy groups.
Once a customer has joined, they are able to source energy from the renewable generators their collective have selected, which works on a preference algorithm using data from a household’s NMI (National Metre Identifier). Customers can access their energy bills and see which energy generation source they are buying from through an online dashboard on Oxamii’s website.
“The benefit is that as a community group offering, people can buy their energy from other members in their community,” Yew says. “That energy is matched by us, identifying each household, or dwelling as its own individual generator.”
“From there, we essentially create a virtual aggregator of all the members to become that community’s generator. It also means any excess energy can be sold to other collective groups as well.”
Members of a community energy group also have the option to contribute towards a local development project in their area by paying a weekly fee to help fund it.
“We believe social impact goals aligns the community energy value proposition, whether it’s building solar and batteries for the community sports club or building a new playground,” Yew says. “I think the element of social impact is important because it defines to us what community energy actually means.”
National growth plans
Oxamii was established in 2017 by Yew, a former banking professional, and co-founders Luke Marshall and Ray Carclaw.
In January last year, Oxamii tested a prototype of their platform originally as a peer-to-peer energy scheme in Renmark in regional South Australia with a 200kw solar farm and a small group of households and small businesses.
Earlier this year, the start-up raised $1 million in seed capital including funding from international investment firm Artesian’s Clean Energy Seed Fund and other private investors.
The company, which also previously participated in the University of South Australia’s Venture Catalyst program, currently has six community energy groups registered on The People’s Grid in South Australia and one in Sandy Point in Victoria.
At launch, energy generators on the platform will receive a set price for their energy through a power purchase agreement (PPA), which matches prices directly with the energy sourced from distributed generators. Yew says it will also allow generators to receive a higher rate for their power than they would selling into the spot market.
In future updates, energy generators will be given incentives to sell to their customers at cheaper rates to receive a higher preference among members of their collective.
The company currently has a biogas generator on the platform, which provides energy to customers when their renewable sources are not producing power.
Oxamii makes a revenue margin of one and a half cents for residential customers and under a cent for businesses off their total energy bills respectively as part of its business model.
The company aims to have solar and wind farms as well as other renewables on The People’s Grid within the next year and is working on developing a virtual powerplant with Circular Energy to connect households and commercial batteries.
Oxamii is also in talks with national companies and organisations, including professional sporting codes, charities, and corporations about the expansion of their platform, with the long-term goal of branching into other states, territories, and later internationally.
“What will dictate how fast we grow is how good a customer experience we create for our collectives and customers, but also how we manage generation like solar, wind, and biogas as well,” says Yew.