Accurassi is working to help large organisations manage both their energy supply and their carbon impact. OnImpact spoke to Founder and CEO, Ross Sharman, about the state of play for climate-tech in Australia today, and the company’s goals for growth and impact.
What does your business do, and who are your customers?
Accurassi provides personalised, actionable insights to energy retailers, solar installers and lenders to help them acquire new customers or upsell to existing customers.
This experience typically centres around a consumer sharing their energy bill & usage data, where the data is used to size a suitable solar system (and battery) and then find the most suitable provider and tariff.
Today’s energy retailer is looking to deploy solar and batteries to their customers to create more generation assets away from the volatile and expensive wholesale market. These assets often need financing, which is where the lender gets involved. This lender could be a bank that wants to help their mortgage customers tackle rising energy costs (electricity is forecast to rise another 35% in 2023), whilst providing finance for low-carbon energy assets (such as solar, electric cars and heat pumps). Accurassi’s technology helps support this new business model for the bank.
What’s the core problem you’re trying to solve?
The average Australian household emits eleven carbon tonnes per year from energy, with 31% of these emissions coming from gas/electricity usage and 69% through vehicle fuels. Initially, we are focussed on supporting households to reduce their emissions associated with electricity and gas – which will provide monetary savings in the process. Accurassi helps consumers find alternative energy products through lenders, solar installers and energy retailers.
Australia is somewhat of a laggard in the uptake of electric vehicles, but their replacement of combustion engine vehicles is inevitable. Volvo recently announced that it will only be selling electric vehicles by 2026. An electric vehicle should be charged with renewable energy (which is cheaper), ideally during the day when solar energy is plentiful. With bi-directional charging, the electric vehicle can recharge the home in the evening, meaning a home relies less on grid-supplied energy. To get the best optimisation from an electric vehicle purchase or lease, Accurassi’s data insights will help consumers via their energy retailer or bank.
How have you seen investor interest in the climate-tech space develop in the past 5 years
I’ve been in the climate tech space for over ten years, and it was a somewhat lonely experience for the first half of that journey. However, that seems to have changed in the last couple of years; there now seems to be a growing collection of companies wanting to solve climate issues with technology. This growth in climate-tech start-ups is attracting more investors to the space – which is great to observe. State governments such as Investment NSW are also getting on board in their own way, supporting with grants and exports.
Venture Capital is a small but important part of the overall investor ecosystem, but it is facing its own headwinds now, so it will not likely grow in the next couple of years. The VC model needs startups that can deliver fast exponential growth; that will be a real challenge.
As such, I believe bootstrapping, government support, angel investment, and smart use of debt will be the methods used by most start-ups in climate tech needed to develop paid traction. The general awareness that climate tech is hot means that getting these alternative funding sources is now possible.
What support (from Government or other stakeholders) would help accelerate growth in the climate-tech space?
In Australia, a large portion of the population lives in rented accommodation, so solar/batteries and even electric car chargers are inaccessible. Landlords should be incentivised to install solar on their rental properties, as solar will help the tenants with their cash flow, but this involves long-term thinking. It won’t be long until many people switch to electric vehicles, and these people will want to charge their electric vehicles with free solar energy.
The best way for state or federal governments to unblock this situation is to create a new scheme offering a full rebate for rental solar (say a 6.6kw system). There are existing state-based loan schemes, but it needs to be a slam dunk – offered for a defined period of time (say one year). With the looming recession (and reduced consumer spending), a free solar system should align with the landlord’s interest to help support tenants with their cash flow. Solar is an undervalued asset to a home and is likely to help attract tenants in the future, so is a worthwhile addition to a property.
Was there a business (either local or globally) that influenced the development of your organisation?
I draw inspiration from many sources, following many entrepreneurs and businesses. I tend to admire entrepreneurs with focused purpose and love quiet achievers. An entrepreneur requires dogged persistence, and no person has shown this quality greater than James Dyson. Before his success, he battled very hard over the years with numerous failures – but he claims that failure breeds innovation – so not being afraid of failure is so important.
What’s in store for your business in 2023?
2023 will be the year the Consumer Data Right (CDR) comes into effect for energy and banking. This regulated data regime makes consumer sharing of energy and financial data much easier. The new legislation also allows possible delegating actions to third parties (like switching an energy retailer via your bank), so watch this space.
Accurassi is working on CDR to help provide a better customer experience for consumers so that lower carbon products can be evaluated more easily using authorised shared data.
Accurassi plans to grow modestly over the next couple of years, ensuring we don’t overextend our expenses. With a growing market in solar, batteries and electric vehicles, we feel we are in the right place to achieve this. Aside from local growth, we hope to test our technology in the US and the UK in the middle of 2023 with local partners in those markets. This will test whether our technology has value to those markets substantially bigger than Australia.