Increasing Access to Renewable Energy Through Software

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Following up on my article about Jo Borras’ podcast with Laura Eve, VP of SaaS Sustainability Solutions for Zeigo, I have my own podcast with Zeigo team members about their tech. As a reminder, Zeigo, part of Schneider Electric, offers a suite of decarbonization software solutions.

In the CleanTech Talk podcast I’m highlighting here, I talk with Katie Mills, Head of Zeigo Power, and Meghan McIntyre, Senior Energy Analyst & Business Strategy Lead at Zeigo Power, about increasing access to renewable energy through software — as the title says. Aside from putting this podcast on our normal Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and other podcast channels, we also have this one on YouTube. Check out the YouTube embed or the Spotify embed below to listen to the full discussion. Below those embedded players, you can find some of the highlights in text.

After introductions and some background discussion, I asked Katie and Meghan how software can be used to help corporations purchase renewable energy projects. Katie provided a handful of answers that probably go beyond what one would normally think. “I think one of the main roles for software is increasing access to markets,” she notes, adding that in this particular case we see more “democratization” of the renewable energy market. She added that it provides greater transparency, and that it also helps to streamline processes.

“I think it’s also an element of, as these markets mature and these solutions mature, software has that flexibility where it can address the new types of buyers,” Meghan added. “So, a lot of, particularly in the renewables space at the moment, it’s very consultancy led, and that reason being that you need those experts to really guide you through these processes, such as a power purchase agreement.” Indeed — it’s a big, expensive, complicated world dominated by consultants when it comes to corporations getting into renewables. “So, software can ultimately facilitate those transactions, but as buyers become more experienced, and corporates become more experienced, you’re going to have more people wanting more of the independent transaction. So, they may not want as much of a consultancy hold, and software still facilitates that for them so they don’t have to do the whole process manually.”

Katie added that it doesn’t help to create “software for the sake of software,” that you have to be looking to solve a real problem with software for it to be worthwhile. She also noted that in this industry, people are still needed for many parts of the process. It’s not like you can just provide an Amazon for renewable energy projects. “I think it’s more just about making sure that software solves the pain points that it can, and work alongside the people who need to be involved in these huge, big negotiations and huge contracts, and with large value attached to them.”

Diving into the power purchase agreement (PPA) process itself, Meghan walks through the benefit of software a little more directly. “And I think just going back to the question focusing on what are the challenges of a PPA and how can software address that, it’s that element of ‘it takes two to tangle.’ So, as Kate was saying, these are really long and complex deals, and we have on one side a buyer who is looking for the best way to hedge against the market, then we have the developer who essentially needs to source financing for the project that they’re looking to put into a PPA. Then you may have the consultant also helping to facilitate there. Essentially, what the software is looking to do is to reduce that pain point, as Katie was saying. And it’s not taking away from that, but it’s making sure that both parties are able to work together and collaborate in an easier fashion. And just making it more transparent for both sides — so, look, we’re actually working for both of you; it’s not that we’re trying to service the buyer or we’re trying to service the seller, it’s ‘the software is here to bring you both together and to help you mutually reach the best deal that works for both sides.” Win, win. And a win for the climate.

There’s a ton more in the podcast discussion. Jump into the video or the audio podcast to learn more.

I also pulled out one particular section of the discussion in which we talked about the benefit of purchasing renewable energy now and avoiding the uncertainty of the future. When you look back at what has disrupted the economy and the world as a whole in the past few years, that makes a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Here’s just that short section as a final teaser:

You can find our CleanTech Talk podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, YouTube, Overcast, Pocket, Podbean, Radio Public, SoundCloud, or Stitcher.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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