Great to chat with Brendan Banfield, Co-Founder & CEO at GRIDSIGHT, Gridsight is a cloud analytics platform that helps electrical utilities transition from “poles and wires” businesses to distributed system operators! We discussed how their software platform provides in-depth grid insights, how to maximise renewable growth, data safety and more! 

https://carbotnic.com/gridsight

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James

The unedited podcast transcript is below

James McWalter

Hello today we’re speaking with Brendan Manfield co-founder and Ceo at Gridsight welcome to podcast Brendan Brilliant to start? What drove the initial decision to start Gridsight.

Brendan Banfield

Thanks James thanks for having me.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, great question. So Gridsight was founded around two years ago so I’ve started electrical engineering as my background and I’ve worked for um, an electrical utility here in Australia while I was studying my bachelors so that was yeah probably about I started there in 2012 so quite some time ago now. But. When I was there I kind of got exposure to I guess how these utilities operate and I really got a lot of exposure to some of the challenges that they were facing so here in Australia we saw some really large rapid uptake and are still seeing a lot of rapid uptake in renewables particularly small scale rooftop solip pv and this rapid uptake caught a lot of these. Utilities by surprise particularly how it relates to the constraints that are being seen on the grid as a result of these small-s scale renewables so I had that exposure early on and kind of realized how these utilities were operating and then once I finished my bachelor’s I came back to do a ph d so I was doing this ph d leading ah a team of students building a smart.

Brendan Banfield

Solar powered house here in Australia so we took that house to Dubai for a competition called the solar decathle in 2018. So this house had you know all the bells and whistles that had solar batteries smart air conditioner ev charger all these cool pieces of technology and once we brought the house back to Australia it was rebuilt at a micro-grid. Um, my university’s campus and that’s where I undertook a lot of my research so I was using a lot of data from the micro-grid to I guess model the network itself so more data-driven applications to modeling electrical networks as well as controlling some of those you know the solar and batteries in the grid as well to help I guess. Improve the network constraints and ensure the network remains safe and reliable. So as during this time I realized that you know all this technology already exists and with all the data that’s now available to these utilities. There’s a lot better way that they could be managing these small-s scale assets on the network. That’s not currently being done so that kind of got the wheels turning. But. You know the technology is there. It’s just the implementation that’s required so it was based out of that that I contacted one of my best friends Kurt who is now co-founder as well. Who’s got a background in the startup space and was kind of explaining what I was thinking around I guess grid site itself and yeah, basically that night. Decided to to give it a go and yeah create grid site.

James McWalter

Yeah, those those moments right are so exciting. You’re like we’re actually we’re going to do it and now we only have whatever decades ahead of us to to to do all the work and the execution and so on and so I guess from that kind of initial decision. Um. What do those next kind of 3 to 6 months look like and you know what were the I guess early versions of the product before you kind of got to the direction that you are today.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so the early version of the products. So I took a lot of what I was I guess doing related to my Phd and so I was doing my ph d at the University Of Wollongong as well and they have a division within the University Of Wollongong that I was doing my Phd under is the australian power quality and reliability center. And they have a lot of ties to industry. So once I decided that this was something I wanted to I guess pursue I spun up a really pretty janky Mvp so just ah, basically a web application surfacing some of the insights related to this bicogrid that I was doing my Phd and so. What the hosting capacity was so hosting capacities. How much renewables the micro-grid can safely host the performance in terms of any voltage constraints and that sort of thing. So once I built that I managed to sit down with a couple of I guess stakeholders from other utilities and just basically walk them through the product and see if that was. You know what we’re doing was of interest and that was enough to spark some interest to kind of get to that next step where you know we knew we had something and we had potential users out there who were interested in what we were doing so at that point after we built that minimum viable product. It was time to get someone who actually had some I guess web development and application. Development skills in are more on the data science side. So that’s when we got our cofounder Hugh who is yeah his background’s in yeah web development and I guess building applications for startups so that was ah about about three months in that we got he on as a cofounder and from there. Um, we managed to get a project up and running with Evo energy who was the utility I worked with when I was doing my bachelor’s degree so that was really good. It gave us I guess you know the ability to test our software and solutions in a you know real network environment or just kind of a micro-grid like ah it was at my university. Was really good to kind of get runs on the board early particularly considering the industry we’re in It’s often quite difficult to get in and get projects and pilots up and running with utilities. They’re very you know, slow-moving beasts so being able to do that so early on in our journey was yeah was excellent for us.

James McWalter

And that was definitely going to be my next question. You know when investors and a lot of kind of founders are thinking about what are the easiest 2 most difficult customers to you know, have for your product. You know governments are generally on the most difficult side and maybe utilities are like None minor notch to the left of that and so but the opportunities are absolutely massive right? because there’s so much money kind of pouring through these entities. They have such a kind of crucial aspect for the yeah, the infrastructure that the energy infrastructure all around us and so getting so quickly you know that’s amazing to hear but I guess with there any kind of particular. Repeatable like insights for how you got were able to get that so quickly or was it a bit kind of you know, fortunate and accidental.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, it’s ah it’s a constant. It’s a constant learning curve. So we yeah we were told very early on in the piece. You know when we basically would mention to you know investors and advisors and the like that we’re building software to assist utilities and automatically brought up some red flags and they were you know saying it’s going to be very difficult.

Brendan Banfield

You guys? Um, but we believe you know and we’ve found so far that the key is just finding you know a team within these organizations. That’s really passionate about I guess this change that we’re seeing on the grid and if we can find that team and find that internal champion. That’s really passionate about progressing things forward within their organization. once you find that person and once you find that team it’s really easy from there so we we take a really really collaborative approach with our clients at the moment so we have meetings with them Weekly. We have them on our you know slack channel and all those sorts of things so which they really appreciate. So I think it’s you know. Taking a bit of a different look on how you um work with these utilities. It’s not just the fact that we’re selling them software. It’s that we’re you know, providing them software but also becoming part of their team and working with them collaboratively throughout that whole journey. So once we do that. It’s a lot easier to become sticky and we’re kind of collaboratively building solutions that you know. Ah, not only going to help them. But if it’s helping them It’s probably going to be helping you know the broader industry as a whole. So. That’s the I guess method we’ve taken so far. So once we find that team just working really closely with them and basically becoming part of their team as well.

James McWalter

Yeah I think that’s that’s really interesting. You know when you’re trying to like navigate these large none person entities right? Whether there’s large corporation and utility those kind of folks you often have just like a ton of you know, different parts of organization. Don’t know what other parts of the organization are doing and. For folks who haven’t kind of worked in large organizations like that it can kind of seem strange. It’s like oh you know we got refused by the organization but you haven’t really been refused by like this one small slice of it and nobody else knows about that slice or that slice is not really communicating and you know I worked. Previously in ah at a None person company. We went from a thousand to eighteen in that timef frame and it would happen to us people selling at us and then I was also selling into very very large financial institutions and also had a similar experience where you’d have a no but like there’s still None people to go after potentially and so you try to find that champion who can kind of you know. That you’re representative to the people you need to get in front of within the company itself and so I think yeah, they yeah there is this fear of kind of tackling utilities across the startup world. But as you’ve shown and as I think can be learned by a lot of startups. You just need to you know. Figure out the org charge and just start working your way through it until you eventually find that champion because there are a lot of people in those organizations frustrated by how slowly those organizations are moving in these directions and so those are the real opportunities and so I guess like once you kind of had identified that particular person you know. What and you you mentioned having this kind of conversation. Thiss very collaborative back and forth. You know, coveloping the product from the sounds of it and and all those kind of elements and so what? what does the product look like today and you know if I was utility and I was interested in implementing gridite or would that experience be like.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, great question. So the products at the moment or our main product at the moment’s called grid analytics. So it’s a web application software platform that provides in-depth insights related to the low voltage network. So where you know houses are connected and that sort of thing so we combine. Multiple disparate data sources that’s available to these utilities. So I guess we’re very data agnostic in that sense. So we ingest you know Gis data like their network map and topology. We ingest any smart meter data they have if they have data coming in from solar and batteries on the grid. We ingest that as well. Any you know. Asset monitoring devices like transformer monitors and those sorts of things so that in um, in and of itself is one benefit basically having a 1 ne-stop shop where they can see all their data at the moment the workflows for these utilities. You know if they want to do any kind of work related across many different datasets. They’ve got to do a sql query here and ah. Ah, data download here and try and combine in the next excel which is obviously yeah, very very cumbersome but at the moment that platform is targeted basically to identifying end to end hosting capacity issues. So as I said before hosting capacities essentially the amount of renewable energy technologies.

James McWalter

Dos and csvs and and excel right.

Brendan Banfield

Grid can host safely and reliably so we surface a lot of insights related to the small scale renewables on the grid solar batteries electric vehicle charges and how they’re operating at the I guess individual customer level but then also modeling back up the network as well and showing how these. Systems are potentially affecting network safety and reliability and where this is happening. We provide solutions on how you can improve that network hosting capacity. So the primary goal of this platform is to assist these utilities in basically managing the fully decentralized and decarbonized grid that can host 100% renewables here in Australia at the moment we’re already seeing you know, utilities are having to put limits on solar installations and those sorts of things when we only have you know we have very high penetrations of solar around None in 3 houses here in Australia has solar pv which is pretty crazy but we want to get to a point where every house could have solar and at the moment just. The huge amounts of you know, none of None of systems out there and the huge quantities of data. They don’t have the capacity to manage that at the moment so that’s where we’re stepping in managing the constraints associated with none of small-s scale renewables to assist these utilities in making this transition to a hundred percent renewables

James McWalter

And once the utilities deployed grid site and it’s say okay this this is a particular region in our grid in our network you know a geographic region where we’re Going. We have right now some capacity concerns. Like what actions then does the grid take to kind of mitigate those concerns and.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so there’s I guess a host of solutions that can be undertaken and that’s one of the I guess benefits of the gridsite platform as well. We can explore those different solutions. So some of them are as simple as. Basically performing a tap change so tap change is where you can just reduce the voltage of the transformer. So if you can reduce the voltage at the transformer. Sometimes you can unlock some additional hosting capacity some other I guess solutions are things like phase rebalancing so here in Australia we have a lot of soap pv systems and. Eb charges and those sorts of things which are only installed on a single phase and quite often. You’ll find that you might have a portion of the electrical network and it so happens that you know you have 50 pv systems installed on phase a and only 10 on phase b and six on phase c so being able to just swap some of those phases is a. Ah, really I guess low-hagging fruit solution to being able to improve the capacity of the network. But then we’re also starting to dive into the more I guess advanced non-network solutions as well. So that’s things like um, there’s an idea of or a concept called a dynamic operating envelope. So that’s where you can actually dynamically. Shift the amount of import or export of these assets. So for example, you may have a ten Kilowatt solar system that’s allowed to export freely to ten Kilowatts all around the year but maybe there’s a few days with the network’s constrained where you might want to wind that generation down to None or seven Kilowatts just to ensure the network remains safely and reliable. Safe and reliable. So we’re starting to explore and hopefully implement some of those solutions as well with more the dynamic shifting of import and export of these assets because at the moment some of these utilities are just looking at putting static export limits in. So for example, South Australia they’re bringing in a mandate that no matter how big your. Solar pv system is you can only export at one point five kilowatts so even if you had a ten Kilowatt system you limit to that small export so we don’t really want to see that we want to see the maximum amount of renewable energy on the grid. So we’re starting to explore these more smarter solutions where you can actually leverage the existing infrastructure all these solar and batteries and those sorts of things. To improve the grid as opposed to just putting hard. You know heuristic base rules into the network.

James McWalter

That’s that’s really fascinating I think’s you know it’s kind of complex because most of our audience is based in the Us. Although we definitely have a Australian listeners. Yeah, originally from from Ireland Grew up mostly in Europe and so all these different systems you and the utilities will have a lot of. You know, overlapping concerns will operate in very similar ways. But sometimes the incentive models can be quite different in terms of you know who the rate pair is who cares about the tariffs and all those kind of things can you speak to how those kind of incentives affect how a utility approaches things like. Adjusting and and responding to capacity concerns.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so that’s that’s ah I guess the million dollar question at the moment so it still hasn’t been solved correctly. The the tariff incentives the way we’re seeing this unfolding at the moment is um, it could be implemented that all the way some utilities are looking at it is when people install these renewables. They’ll have either a a static export limit. So as I said before just a flat say 1.5 Kilowatts or they’ll be able to sign up for a dynamic limit that can change based on the network constraints so you might be able to export all the way up to None kilowatts in a few days of the year um it might wind down to you know, None say in terms of the tariffs though or that sort of um I guess dynamic export limiting does still allow for people like virtual power plan operators to play in that space. So the virtual power plan operators can come in and all the utility is saying is here’s the upper bound like he can play anywhere within that. Within that limit. So the ah the virtual power plan operators can come in and still play within the market participate in energy arbitrage and really provide you know, benefits and incentives for the end users in terms of the the incentives to the edge users from the utility though. Still not entirely sure on the best approach for that I think education. Is absolutely key and really engaging the customers a lot more in terms of educating them and why this is important and how this is going to benefit them in the long run as opposed to hinder them. Um be I think just um, whether it’s financial incentive or whatever it may be something along those lines. Along with the education piece should be enough to ensure that these consumers are you know, getting the most out of their investment and understand why you know managing these large-scale of renewables while you think it might be hindering you in the long run. It’s not only benefiting you but benefiting the entire grid.

Brendan Banfield

As well.

James McWalter

And you mentioned a couple times the yeah more kind of this residential solar which Australia is absolutely the kind of world leader and having such a large penetration of you know, residential solar being on as you said a none of homes. What about the kind of larger community as they call it in the us or utility scale ah project development. You know when a developer is potentially bringing hundreds of megawatts onto the grid at a particular point typically called an interconnection point. How I guess you know when a utility is dealing with an individual consumer right? They’re giving some sort of price signal right? It’s like we will. Allow your energy onto the the grid or not and that’s kind of where it ends when you’re dealing with these kind of much more larger developers and entities. There must be more of a back and forth to try to figure out because you know the developer doesn’t want to put in millions of dollars into developing somewhere where the utility just won’t let them kind of connect to the grid and so. Have you seen use cases for grid sites insights grid sites insights for those kind of use cases as well.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so we don’t deal as much with the I guess really large scale solar farms and that sort of thing that’s kind of a different beast entirely. But in terms of kind of the smaller developments For example, you know there might be a new suburb or development going in with. You know and that plan on having so for example with Evo and energy who we worked with they have some suburbs that had 100% mandated solar. That’s actually what our none project with them was related to looking at the constraints associated with these suburbs. So what we can do currently in the platform is we kind of look at the constraints all the way up. The. Network hierarchy so we look all the way down to the individual customer. But then we extrapolate that out to entire basically zone substations. So if we’re talking none of customers. So using this it can be very easy to identify with some of the visualizations we do where these constraints are. For example, if a development was going in and you saw it was going into this particular zone substation. You could look at the surrounding parts of the network and determine hey this part of the network is already constrained if you know a suburb goes in that’s going to have 100% mandated solar that’s going to lead to significantly more constraints so that’s where we can start looking at. I guess more larger scale network solutions so things potentially like community batteries or some more advanced control strategies across that zone to try and facilitate that new development going in. So it’s really about looking at the the data we have available and trying to isolate the pockets of networks where there are constraints. And being able to access that data really efficiently and quickly so you know a planning engineer can go in have a look at where the suburbs going. There’s no constraints here currently, we should probably be okay.

James McWalter

That’s fascinating and so nudy needs to have yeah quite a few stakeholders involved right? So the real estate developer is putting in. You know a hundred home suburb or thousand home suburb like they obviously are like okay None of the selling points to the the buyer of these homes is the fact that. They’ll have you know, cheap or free or even maybe make some money from the solar panels on the on the roof. Um, but if you said like the capacity is already kind of tapped out in that area. Ah the utility must have concern. So I guess is there like a planning process to to connect the suburban developer. To understand like the the capacity constraints so that that conversation is happening at the right time or you know as what often happens in the us which market I know a bit better There’s a lot of just reaction that’s occurring and and then you start to see bottlenecks and the development kind of just stretches out to 3 years and and things slow down to a crawl.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, particularly at that level. It’s still very reactionary. So. There’s a lot of improvement that can be done at that level. Um, yeah, these utilities just you know as they operate. They’re very I guess Reactionary Entities. There’s certainly a lot that can be improved in that space and I think. The way the industry is heading at the moment. There is a lot of consideration going into how we can manage this growth in the next five to 10 years as opposed to being more you know reactionary in the Sense. So I think um, you know lots of projects are going up with community batteries and those sorts of things even large scale. Um, batteries in parts of the areas where there’s constraints. So yeah, it’s still a very challenging process particularly once you then not only do you have the customers but also developers and and those sorts of things brought into the mix as well. Yeah, it still hasn’t been solved on it think yet. But I Think. You know some of the work we’re doing and particularly using data to unlock parts of the network where you’re experiencing Constraints is really going to be key in assisting these transitions and making sure that you know all stakeholders have a really transparent view of how these systems will operate and then how it will not only Benefit. Or help affect the grid in the long run but also affect the end consumers too.

James McWalter

Yeah, kind of yeah the idea of deploying your own battery and basically starting to see more and more micro-grids being built right? And yeah, a lot of micro-grids historically and and and still today are being built with resiliency is the none kind of concern. We don’t use the grid I see australia has had you know it’s a fair share of issues with with Forest fires. Wildfires as as the western United States has had and then you you know have hurricane seasons and so on in Eastern United States and around the world. You know, similar kind of climate and increasingly bad climate effects on things like energy in the grid. So you know we’re we’re starting to have a lot more micro-grids a lot more resiliency built in. But then we’re also starting to see. You know the ability or the idea that as you start to deploy these you know battery storage and these kind of things you start to actually also produce the ability for the owner of the asset to potentially make some you know income from that and so rather than just solar panels back on to the ah under grid and you just sell your excess energy from your solar panels. If you have a battery whether it’s standone storage within the the home that you live in or eventually things like the battery in your electric vehicle. You know these are opportunities to do things like grid stabilization and sorry services and so on how are you thinking about that like bidirectional. Structure as you have just more ubiquitous batteries kind of occurring across the grid whether it’s ev to grid or just batteries within the home and how you know grid site can kind of incorporate that data as well.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s a really good one so we’re we’re doing quite a bit of work at the moment like still early stages. But how we can increase I guess the benefits of renewable energy particularly in isolated micro-grids so here in Australia we have a large interconnected energy system. However, there are small pockets particularly Australia’s you know really large where we have some isolated micro-grids that are reliant on basically renewables and diesel generation. So we’re looking there at how we can apply some of the analytics to ensure that basically we’re maximizing the amount of renewables in these micro-grids while trying to minimize the amount of. Reliance on Diesel Generation so that’s going to ultimately benefit the customers who own those assets too. But yeah in terms of I guess system stability and ancillary services like frequency control at the moment. A lot of that is being I guess managed by you know the vpp operators in the derm systems or distributed. Energy Resource Management Systems we see ourselves at the moment sitting at the I guess layer above that basically orchestrating at what levels these assets can import and export to ensure that the network still remains I guess reliable and operating within its bounds. Um, so the way that can happen. Is you know we can use our network models and data to calculate and set those limits and then the virtual power plan operators and the distribute or the derm systems can play within those other ancillary markets like the frequency control ancillary service market and that sort of thing. So I think it’s going to be a very. I guess collaborative and multi-layered infrastructure that’s going to be I guess monitoring and managing these systems so you know you’re going to have for example, an entity like gridsite who’s managing the network constraints as it ah pertains to the poles and wires and then there’s also going to be. You know your teslas of the world and those sorts of things who. Um, you know have control over a host of battery systems that can respond to you know, events such as large generators dropping offline and they can step in to increase the frequency. So I think it’s going to be. Yeah, it’s going to be many systems and it’s just going to be a matter of all these different entities. You know, being really open in the way that we integrate with one another I think you know traditionally when you’re thinking you know enterprise software. They’ve been very siloed in the past one system sits here and it doesn’t work with anything else and the other system sits over here or as we really want to and we’re starting to do this now kind of open up.

Brendan Banfield

Our platform and our solutions So that other people can or other entities can use our services and conversely we can use theirs as well.

James McWalter

That that’s really interesting. You know there’s this kind of very common refrain from ah grid opera operators utilities in the United States about sharing too much capacity data that it’s there’s a security concern related to that. Um, do you hear. Similar for utilities in Australia um, because there there are definitely you know capacity maps in places like New York state that kind of put put a pressure on this idea that there’s a security concern because New York also has security concerns. But yeah I guess does that ever come up as ah as a concern in Australia.

Brendan Banfield

Absolutely and it still is a big concern so you know to be frank if we were doing gridsite four years ago we would have failed miserably just because we’re a you know cloud software platform and there is no way four years ago that these utilities would have been open to sending their data. You know to a.

James McWalter

None Ah.

Brendan Banfield

Ah, cloud software platform to to run analytics and that sort of thing we’re really starting to see that shift now just purely because for a few reasons I think you know the utilities have opened up to the fact that you know this change is happening really rapidly and they need to do something ah about it now before it gets too out of hand. And due to the really vast quantities of data that they’re starting to see you know the operational overheads and costs associated with you know, hosting things internally is becoming prohibitively expensive. So um, yeah, that’s where we’ve seen some of the benefits and it’s still you know it’s still um. Guess a complex part of the business we need to navigate. We’ve done it a few times now and you know it’s just the the steps that you need to take to ensure that their you know their data is remaining really safe and secure so we’ve you know we’ve engaged and hired some some really really I guess people who have. Significant knowledge in this space in terms of data security. So one of our advisors who’s working with us is you know he’s worked worked across finance and health where data security and privacy is extremely extremely important. So we’re putting some of those mechanisms in place and working really closely when we’re onboarding these utilities and talking with them letting them know that the infrastructure we have in place. And the data is extremely safe and reliable and will remain secure but moreover these utilities themselves some of them the more advanced ones here in Australia anyway, they themselves are starting to open up and implement some of their own cloud systems. So really seeing the benefits or starting to realize that there’s a lot of benefits in this technology. Which has made them a lot more open to startups like us who are obviously cloud-based and not really an on-premises software.

James McWalter

And then on on terms of the policy side of things so you know there are various kind of incentives programs that have been deployed to kind of encourage renewables. Um, you also have sometimes you know just federal money to help with things like build out a distribution and transmission lines for. Utilities to kind of take advantage of in terms of like the policy framework in Australia like are there things that could be improved. You know. Are there areas where yeah money is being directed in in ways that are maybe counterproductive and. Other could of opportunities for policymakers to say okay, you know in some cases. Maybe we want to get very very involved and give incentives in some places. Maybe we want to get out of the way that the market is doing quite well and so how do you think about that balance.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so I guess the biggest issue with policy related to um, the utilities here in Australia at the moment is essentially the access to smart meter data. So the primary data source that we use within our platform is from smart meters themselves. So the meters that are on people’s homes. Um, and it used to be that the utility did own these meters and then about five years ago some government regulations came in known as power of choice where essentially they wanted to spin off the metering component of basically an electrical network into a separate entity. Called metering coordinators and what that has led to is basically the the fact that utilities no longer have direct access to this data so they actually need to purchase this smart metering data off these entities called metering coordinators and it’s really difficult because you know essentially these. Metering coordinators. There’s 2 really major ones here in Australia and basically they’re monopolies and it’s really difficult for these utilities to kind of bargain with these metering coordinators because you know the metering coordinator now has all the power. They have all the meters they have all the data. The utility can’t go anywhere else unless they want to. You know, fork out millions and millions of dollars and put their own monitoring and equipment in the network. So I’m really hoping and it’s starting to change but really hoping to see some um improved reform reforms ah around that so giving these utilities better access to this data because the data has so much value and it’s only going to benefit. Consumers if the utilities get access to these vast quantities of data. So as opposed to spending you know these utilities spend significant amounts of times you know bargaining with these media and coordinators you know going back and forth purchasing some data but not others and it’s really, ah, a game of dollars and cents where if I think you know. If more government regulations came in that just gave access to the utilities for this data. It’s only going to really drive more innovation in this sector and really benefit the consumers in the long run as opposed to kind of this. Yeah really I guess regulated world by living into the moment that’s causing a lot of stifling of this.

James McWalter

Yeah, it’s It’s a real kind of tough thing I mean I’ve been kind of working on a project with a few folks about like trying to start to layer and stack. How all these incentives operate because it’s quite difficult to know right? So sometimes like ah this might be a really big opportunity and you start to see entrepreneurs Potentially starting to build something in that space.

Brendan Banfield

Innovation.

James McWalter

And then all of a sudden. It’s like well there’s actually all these countervailing forces. That mean, what looks like an incentive actually has all these other. Um yeah know things that are that are working against it and so ah and and you know these incentives and even the disincentives of other things tariffs etc like they’re nearly always done with the best like idea in mind right? like people are not. Deliberately to to mess things up, but ah, there’s a lot of these kind of unintended consequences and so yeah I mean it’s really kind of fascinating where gridside is up to um, you know what What’s your kind of goals over the next twelve months for the company.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so we’ve got a really strong team at the moment. So we’ve managed to build like an absolutely excellent team. You know, really really talented engineers. So the goal at the moment is to continue growing our I guess great analytics platform here throughout Australia. As I mentioned earlier, we’re starting to get into this space. So at the moment. The analytics are purely kind of data-d drivenven looking at historical data. But we’re starting to get into this space as I mentioned earlier related to actually controlling some of these assets on the grid. So basically providing an end-to-end hosting capacity solution. So. Utility identifies and our grid analytics platform this part of the network’s constrained. They can see. There’s a lot of solar and they engage grid site to basically put our constraint engine on that part of the network and start managing that solar to ensure that we’re getting the maximum amount of renewable energy on that part of the.

Brendan Banfield

Grid while we’re remaining safe and reliable so kind of that end to end close loop solution is where we’re heading. But I guess externally outside Australia we’re really interested in potentially looking at the us as well. Obviously Hawaii and California really significant amounts of solar in their grid as well. We’re not only looking at solar toobe. But. You know the really large amounts of electric vehicles that are coming on the grid. So 1 of our clients well networks they’re based out of New Zealand and don’t have as much of a solar problem but are starting to see a lot more electric vehicle charges coming in the home so looking more at how we can manage those constraints along with the the solar related constraints and then also potentially. Exploring parts of Europe as well. You know Germany has really significant amounts of solar as does italy and Spain norway has huge amounts of electric vehicles. So starting to you know target these parts of the the world where we’re starting to see huge uptake of renewables. Um, as kind of the world leaders and we feel if we can kind of solve the problems there in these really world-leading countries where we’re seeing huge amounts of small scale renewables then we’ll have the software infrastructure ready when you know the rest of the world starts to catch up so we can you know assist you know, not only Australia but the world in reaching that. 100% renewable target.

James McWalter

Yeah, it’s it’s really exciting and I think it is interesting to start Australia which is definitely the world leader and you know in the United States different states different yeah regions isos etc like look to California and California is None to 3 years ahead of New York and New York is a couple of years ahead of you know other parts of the country all the way down to. Ah, you know some random gray plain states that haven’t really started working towards any this in the none place and so but everyone will get there right? like this is like a technological force that that is just occurring um but it is like you know fascinating like also just the opportunity for you around pure population right.

James McWalter

You know the la metro area probably has a similar population size to the East Coast of of all of Australia. So you know just getting into California I’m sure has a huge amount of upside and you only have to deal with 3 maybe 4 utilities and I’m sure the sales cycles will be quite along. But. Like once you get in there like the opportunities are vast.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, exactly and you know that’s the thing with the clients we work with here. They have you know so endeavor energy our largest client here in Australia has around a none kind of connections on their network whereas you know we’re talking with some some overtake overseas utilities before and they’re saying you know we’ve got. Ah, sorry they have a none connections. Um boy I’ve spoken with some overseas utilities. And yeah, they mentioned you know we’ve got None it’s just a vastly vastly bigger grid but that’s exciting for us like you know we want to be solving problems that you know have ah I guess benefit and impact across. Millions of people with you know across Gigawatts and Gigawatts of distributed energy resources.

James McWalter

No absolutely and and thinking about like as building like building a startup in Australia um, you know there’s a reason I’m building a company myself in the us because it’s just a lot easier and you know even expression that we don’t use as much but it’s a very similar concept to what life is like in in Ireland. Tall poppy syndrome like this idea that you know, um, like I was like joke the most successful people in Ireland are pretty well correlated to the people who are kind of mocked the most and and there’s like a certain type of kind of fondness and and sense of humor to that hypo cynicism but it definitely yeah goes against the idea of. Startup world where everyone’s trying to build billion dollar companies and you got to believe it even when it’s very very difficult so have you found you know, like ways that being based in Australia building the company Australia you know about helps and hinders. Yeah, the trajectory of a startup.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so from a help standpoint. It’s definitely kind of what we’re been talking about Australia is leading the charge in the uptake of small-s scale renewables at the moment in a lot of senses so being able to solve the challenges here. We’re starting to see these challenges crop up in other parts of the world but really being able to kind of solve. You know the idea of network hosting capacity here in Australia really I guess gives us a leg up on other parts of the world that might not be considering it as as much yet. Also the fact that it’s a very I guess tight knit. You know community here the energy sector as a whole you know we only have 13 electrical utilities in the country and they all work very closely together and talk with one another. So once we kind of get in and start doing really good work with None utility word gets out to another and we can begin conversations with them which is you know I guess a benefit in terms of growing a business here. In terms of expanding though. It is a challenge. We still haven’t taken a real deep dive at going into the us. But we have spoken with investors and stuff over that side of the world who are hesitant in you know, investing in or some are anyway hesitant investing in a company that’s not incorporated in the us and those sorts of things.

Brendan Banfield

Um, but we’re just going to take those challenges as it comes you know we’ll we’ll probably end up doing ah you know potentially a series a sometime next year and at that point we may you know incorporate us a Delaware C Corp and those sorts of things so there’s lots of I guess mechanisms we can put in place that can hopefully assist us in taking that more. Global expansion. So yeah, it is a challenge but I think from a technical standpoint where poised really well to be able to implement and solve some challenges related to distributed energy resources on the grid here in Australia and hopefully once we do kind of expand um into the more global landscape people will see. You know I guess from a technical standpoint what we’re able to do and how we’re able to solve it here in Australia where there’s so much renewable energy that if we can solve it here. We can solve it in other parts of the world too. Yeah.

James McWalter

So if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Um, absolutely um, well you brenan have really enjoyed the conversation I Guess proof shop is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.

Brendan Banfield

Yeah, so the moment we’re kind of just rolling through ah a seed round so getting a bit a final bit of investment in at the moment. Yeah we’re also looking at you know as we’ve discussed today getting in talks with potentially you know, utilities and those sorts of things within Hawaii California. Um, even New York if it if it works just to start getting an idea on some of the challenges they’re facing and how they’re managing small scale renewables on the grid. So you know we’re always looking to learn and understand more about what’s happening on the global landscape. So yeah, that’s where we’re at at the moment.

James McWalter

Brilliant I will include some contact details in the show notes. Thank you Brendan.

Brendan Banfield

Thanks James. Cheers.

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