Climate Confident

Climate Confident: Decarbonizing the Electricity Grid with Veckta's Gareth Evans

April 26, 2023 Tom Raftery / Gareth Evans Season 1 Episode 118
Climate Confident
Climate Confident: Decarbonizing the Electricity Grid with Veckta's Gareth Evans
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Show Notes Transcript

Hey everyone, Tom Raftery here, and I'm excited to share this latest episode of the Climate Confident podcast! In today's conversation, we're diving deep into the energy transition and decarbonisation of the electricity grids with our guest Gareth Evans, CEO of energy transition platform Veckta.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The vital role microgrids play in decentralizing power and their impact on energy resilience
  • How Veckta's platform empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions in their energy transition journey
  • The concept of prosumers and their role in driving the circular economy and sustainable communities
  • Real-life examples of communities and businesses harnessing the power of renewable energy, such as the Austrian solar power plants and VB brewery in Australia
  • The importance of turning climate commitments into action, and how Veckta is supporting businesses in their efforts to reduce emissions while staying profitable

I truly enjoyed my conversation with Gareth, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and join us as we explore the future of energy and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Or watch it on YouTube here.

Subscribe to the Climate Confident podcast for more conversations on sustainability, renewable energy, and the fight against climate change.

Link to Gareth's LinkTree

Until next time, stay climate confident!




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Thanks for listening, and remember, stay healthy, sta...

Gareth Evans:

once the tech guys really get involved in this space and we have an easy to use app where we can say these appliances in my home, I don't care whether they need to be turned off when the grid needs the energy and I'm happy to be compensated for it, or I overgenerate in these times. And I'm willing to sell that back to whether it's your neighbor, whether it's your local charity. Whether it's to a corporate who has set these targets and they dunno how to achieve them, and maybe you can exchange your carbon credits for access to their product or their services

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Climate Confident podcast. The number one podcast, showcasing best practices in climate emission, reductions and removals. And I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Don't forget to click follow on this podcast in your podcast app of choice, to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 118 of the climate conference podcast. My name is Tom Raftery. And before we kick off today's show, I want to take a quick second to express my gratitude to all of the show's amazing supporters. Your support has been instrumental in keeping this podcast going. And I am sincerely grateful for each and every one of you. If you're not already a supporter. I'd like to encourage you to consider joining our community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about climate. Supporting this podcast is easy and affordable with options starting as low as just three euros. That's less than the cost of a cup of coffee and your support will make an enormous difference in keeping the show going strong. To become a supporter. You simply click on the support link in the show notes of this episode or any episode. Or alternatively visit tiny url.com/climate pod. Now. Without further ado with me on the show today, I have my special guest Gareth, Gareth. Welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, great to be here. Thanks, Tom. Uh, Gareth Evans, locally based in San Diego, CEO of Veckta the energy transition platform. Yeah, super excited to get to hang out today.

Tom Raftery:

Nice. Thank you. So for people who might be unaware Gareth, you said Veckta and it's an energy transition platform. Can you give us a little more detail than that? What, what is Veckta and how is it involved in the energy transition?

Gareth Evans:

Yep. So Veckta, we specialize in onsite energy behind the meter solutions for commercial industrial businesses. And really what we want to support business leaders around the world to achieve is they're setting these carbon reduction goals and objectives and timeframes are looming. And a lot of talk isn't necessarily turning into action. And there's many reasons for this. And part of it is just one, they dunno what's possible. They dunno who to turn to, they dunno where to begin. It's a confusing landscape. And so we've built a, a platform that integrates their ability to be able to baseline, their, situation today, how much energy am I using? Where am I using it? How much is it costing me? What's my emission profile? What are my objectives? And then what are my options for getting there? And we help them look at energy efficiency, onsite energy, and then whatever emissions are left after taking those two on, then you can move on to renewable energy credits or virtual power purchase agreements. And so we specialize in the onsite energy piece as a priority because we believe that's where you can not only reduce your emissions, but you can also reduce your costs and increase your business resilience. So you get a, a three for one win versus all the other options they play to one of those factors.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. When you say onsite energy, are you referring to the likes of Yeah. Solar panels, less likely wind turbines, and onsite storage, is that kind of where you're, you're pitching?

Gareth Evans:

Exactly. Tom, Yeah, some people refer to it as distributed energy. Microgrids is another term used. These are all kind of subsets of that. But yes, it's, it's essentially what you or I could do at our homes scaled up on a commercial industrial scale. So we look at everything from solar storage, wind gas, generators, in some case diesel still is a backup, but that's certainly becoming far, far less common. Battery energy storage, electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells. So we can look at any of those solution sets, and that's what makes it complex for customers is because there are lots of options. Mm. Um, and depending on where you're located, what your utility connections are, however you use your energy, these all influence what the optimal solution will be. We specialize in being completely solution agnostic, so we don't care what the outcome is. You know, in terms of the technology configuration, we just want to make sure the business achieves whatever their objective is at the right price point. You know, we, we certainly believe that sustainability is achievable with profitability, not at the expense of, and so how do you get both of them at the same time?

Tom Raftery:

Okay. so what, what industries are you supporting typically? Is it across the board or are there particular industries that are more amenable to your solution or better suited for your solution? Or how does it break out?

Gareth Evans:

Yep. The actual platform itself is sector agnostic, where we've seen the biggest need and opportunity today is primarily in, uh, the manufacturing sector. You know, very high energy use, under a lot of pressure to reduce their emissions, particularly of the, in the supply chain that's associated with the energy transition. So we're seeing a lot of car manufacturers, people who are developing parts for that supply chain. The core, top of the top of the food chain businesses are setting these objectives and then they're pushing them down through the supply chain. And so we're seeing a lot of interest on the manufacturing side. Food and beverage is another big one. Food and beverage processing. It can be everything from cold chain or logistics to the actual production of it, to then the grocery stores, microbrew breweries. The reason why this industry is we're seeing a lot of traction is because they've got perishable goods, so they can't afford the power to go off. They typically operate on fairly lean margins, so any cost savings become a real benefit and then because they are consumer facing, there's an emission reduction need within the, from their customers. So I'd say that's where we're seeing the biggest opportunity today. But mining, oil and gas, REITs, you know, big companies with large, real estate portfolios. Typically an ideal customer for us is someone who's got more than one site and they've got a fairly big challenge in terms of where they should prioritize their time and effort and and investments, you know, how we, how are we gonna get the biggest return on investment to achieve whatever their objective is.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And what's the driving force behind it for your customers typically? I mean, there isn't a particular burning platform or is there that, that I'm missing? I mean, I know customers are starting to demand it. In some cases, employees are starting to demand it. So for recruitment and retention it's important, are there regulatory pressures coming as well or there right now as well? And all this as well differs from region to region and geo to geo I I get that.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. Yeah. I think we'll finish with the emission reduction piece because that's particularly interesting. I'd say there is quite literally a burning platform in the likes of California where I'm sat where you know, in the US in particular, the grid in some cases at a hundred years old, you know, the infrastructure that is providing our energy 100, 70, 50, even if it's 30 years old, these components are starting, it's the end of life, are becoming more expensive to maintain, harder to operate, and they're really not designed to be able to deal with our modern day needs and wants, and they certainly can't take on any more capacity. And so as they're bringing on, big utility scale projects, more electric vehicle charging stations. This is putting an increasing pressure on the grid and certainly here with the wildfires with severe heat impacts in Alexa, Texas where they've had the deep cold snaps in Florida where they've got the hurricanes. You know, all of these instances are creating a lot more power outages. And so in the US alone, you know, I think 2021, the stat is businesses lost 150 billion of revenue from power outages alone. So, you know, a lot of people aren't necessarily acutely aware of this until it happens to them. And so what we want them to be doing is thinking proactively do you know cost of one outage and losing production for hours or days can actually pay for an entire system that will then last you 10, 20, 30 years. So that's on the resilience side. On the cost side, certainly rates are going up minimum of three to 5% a year. And we're hearing customers experiencing 40% year on year escalations. And it's impossible to manage your business when you've been exposed to those sort of cost uncertainties. And that's happened obviously in Europe, North America, everywhere right now, particularly on the back of what is happening in Ukraine. So they're real key drivers that can be influenced by getting the right energy solution. And then on the emission side, there's lots of factors. Capital markets are now starting to demand it. So anyone who wants to go to the capital markets, they're certainly being asked what's your strategy for being more sustainable /greener. So anyone who wants to get access to cheaper capital, they need to be showing that they've got a plan. Regulators are starting the demand that you start to report mm-hmm how you're performing. We're seeing stock prices, those who reduce their emissions versus those that increase them. There's a 12% differential. So you can imagine for the benefit of the business, there's a huge differential. And then you have boards and CEOs and leadership teams are setting some pretty aggressive targets, and they haven't necessarily figured out how to do it yet. And so they're doing that because they know it's good for their brand, they know it's good for their business, and ultimately when they do it right, it's good for their bottom line. And so that's the real opportunity is, emission reduction is not only the right thing to do, but it's also the way to get ahead as a business today by being proactive and getting it done right. And we do hear some customers say, can I just wait for the utility? My utility is committing to reducing their emissions but what we're seeing is utility scale projects are typically taking five, 10 years to deploy, you know, regulatory, permitting, interconnection agreements, and then let alone the kind of, not in my backyard, the kind of nimby approach to this. Now, people don't want big power plants. They don't want transmission lines passing through their backyards, and so it's very hard to get these projects up. And so the expectation that the utilities who have operated the way they've operated for the last a hundred years are gonna suddenly change the way they operate and suddenly accelerate these projects. It's not gonna happen. And so if we wait for the utilities, we're, we're certainly not gonna hit the emission reduction targets we want.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, cool. And. Can you talk me through some kind of successful projects that you've rolled out? Either with named companies or not, just to talk about, you know, some of the, the savings people have or companies have seen and the kind of imaginative solutions that have been rolled out?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, yeah. I can talk about a few at different stages. So, you know, starting at kind of the small end of the spectrum just so people can understand the different scales and opportunities. Worked with a brewery in Northern California who are experiencing half a dozen power outages a year minimum. Up in Northern California, they experience what's called power safety shutoff. So anytime it gets too hot, it gets too windy, there's a risk of a wildfire. Even if there isn't a wildfire yet, they'll shut off your power. And so you can imagine trying to run a brewery where you're entertaining people, you're trying to produce the beer. If the power goes off, it not only affects front of house, but you can lose product as well.

Tom Raftery:

Lose a batch. Yeah.

Gareth Evans:

And then it be, yeah, and then it becomes a real pain. Cuz now you have to have approval to dispose of it, you know, cuz you're now disposing of a taxable product. And so the knock on effects are quite significant. And so they've gone through a process with a, a microgrid developer where he spent the year essentially being sold a solution. The challenge in the industry today is business owners dunno what to ask for, and so the supply side is pushing them products buy my solar panels, buy my storage, buy, buy my contract essentially. We went through an entire year that developer did a bunch of free, perceived free work for them, designed the system, put a contract in front of them, and at the end of that process, the contract were completely unfavorable terms and luckily for all of this owner is, he was formally a lawyer, so he knew that the terms didn't look right, and so he then had to go back to scratch, you know he had to start all over, over again. We're introduced to him, and in less than three months he was able to configure a solution, design it, in this case it was solar pool Storage. He was able to design a system that would, cost him less than what he was paying utility today in the form of an energy as a service contract, reduce his emissions by 80% and be able to ride through an outage of up to several days for critical infrastructure. And so he designed the system, developed this request for proposal in our marketplace, pushed it out. He got bids back from multiple suppliers, was able to negotiate and then ultimately award the contract. And so, that's a, a real good success story in the sense that you can see the difference in time scales a year and getting nothing done, and then three months and having a competitive, vibrant solution to where you are in control of the process. You're telling the market, here's what I want you to quote me, versus here, you know, I'm willing to be sold to. And then we, we also have worked with, uh, a steel manufacturing producer globally. They've got multiple sites around the world. We looked at several of their highest priority sites. And there's one in particular where they can save $400,000 a year in cost savings alone, while also reducing their emissions by, just shy of 25%. And they've gone through the screening, the assessment and their project is actually just about to go into the marketplace for suppliers to bid on. And you can imagine the suppliers also love this because they're now being presented with a highly bankable, viable project that's already been pre-vetted, pre-developed, configured, and now they just need to put a proposal together. So they have no cost of sale, no sales, no marketing. They haven't had to do any of this kind of free consulting. And I would say that's probably the biggest challenge our customers face is, and they pay a small fee to Veckta to do this assessment work, but they can use the marketplace for free. But they're used to being told we will assess this for you for free, but they don't realize that all that cost gets rolled into the back end and that's what drives up their overall contract value. So there's these hidden costs. So we kind of see it as being a, a very cheap insurance policy to make sure that you are truly understanding what's right for you versus what the market is telling you is right for you. So there, there's a few examples. Different ends of spectrums. You know, very high energy intensity, steel manufacturing right through to kind of small micro brewery, and there's lots in between.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And you've mentioned now for the first time the marketplace, that's something you hadn't mentioned Yeah. Up until now. So for people who are listening who you know, might want to know a little bit more about that, what is the, the marketplace you're talking about and how does that fit into your platform?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, so this is kind of the real crux of the future of our business. You know, today we're, I mean, you know, we we're supporting businesses to vet, validate, baseline, assess what they want to do really through necessity, just because the market, it's young business leaders need that education, they need that support. They wanna have the data-driven, opportunity to make informed decisions to then build a project. And so we've built all that infrastructure to get 'em to a point of being able to use the marketplace. But what Veckta really is, is a marketplace platform. And so we've developed the infrastructure whereby once you've got that solution that you want to go and buy, we've developed the infrastructure to step you through all the things you need to be thinking about. What are the contract terms? How do I want to pay for the energy? Do I want to self-finance it? Do I want someone else to pay for it, build it, own it, operate it, and just sell me energy on a monthly basis as a energy, as a service bill? Who's responsible for the construction? When do I want it built by? Here's my success criteria. So we step them through all those questions that they'd never think to necessarily ask. And then now they're putting into the market a very succinct, powerful request such that if they now can get comparable bids back from the highest qualified suppliers in the market. So we have over 4,000 suppliers in our marketplace. If their specifications match the project type based on location, technology, contract terms, they receive the opportunity and then they bid for it within the platform. And then the customer has the ability to compare those bids side by side rank them, negotiate and then ultimately award the work. And so it's almost like you're Expedia of today for your holiday buying experience. You plug in a few variables. I want to go to this type of destination, these type of dates, show me my options. Versus in the past it was I had to find an airline, a hotel, a rental car, insurance, and it was all separate or I'd have to pay a travel agent, a huge amount of money to go and figure that out for me. That's the kind of consulting equivalent in our industry today. So we've built the Expedia version for the energy transition. Here's my variables, here's what I wanna achieve, and then here's my options for achieving that. Which one seems to align with my best interests?

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And for your customers then, once they have that solar and storage in place, in the case of the brewery or whatever it is mm-hmm. Is that the end of it? Is that the end of your involvement or do you continue working with them to help them reduce their emissions further?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. Great. Great question. And we, we definitely keep working with them. So the way our platform is set up, they've got their executive style dashboard. Here's my emission profiles across my portfolio, here's where I am, here's where I want to get to. I've now deployed this project or these projects. How has that moved the needle for me? And what we are able to do is monitor the performance of the asset that's deployed, monitor that in real time. And so they can either, they can not only see how the asset's performing actually versus what the suppliers maybe want 'em to see, so they get true transparency on are they getting what they paid for. And then secondly, then that helps 'em really validate, here is my emission reduction profile, here's my cost savings. And then that rolls into their dashboard. And so they're able to track that progress in real time and they're able to then use that for their internal or external reporting and then also drive future decisions. So, alright, I now achieved 50% emission reduction with this onsite energy system. And I reduced 20% through my energy efficiency deployments, but I've still got 30% left. What are my options for doing that? And so we can look at kind of the macro trends around what are the prices of RECs, you know, we can refer them to other people who specialize in virtual power purchase agreements because they're still gonna potentially have to offset that last 30%. So we want to be that integrated platform to drive all decisions, baseline all that data centralize decision making across an organization, and it's super collaborative you know they can have as many users in there as they want. Legal, provide legal representation, finance, you know, CEOs, CFOs, sustainability managers. So it's, it's trying to drive that collaboration, coordination, and that assess, deploy, and then monitor. And that monitoring piece then feeds back into the front end as well. So here's what we achieved with this solution. Is that a be representative of the next projects that I want to roll out and what can we learn from it that we can change for the next one.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And something I didn't hear you mention, and maybe I just didn't hear it, or maybe you, maybe, maybe you didn't, is what about permitting for things like these kind of projects? Yeah. Are you, are you involved in that as well? Or how does that work? Because I, I know that can be tricky for certain projects at least.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. What we see today is that the suppliers are doing this all day, every day, and so they are really the experts in this, particularly for their, their region or their location or their business type. And so we just make sure that the customer is specifying that in their request for proposal that goes to market and that the supplier is really aware that they're responsible for all that permitting, and then also the incentives that are available. That's really, really key to a lot of the. That was my next question. Yeah. So that, that really plays into it. So we really help the customers factor in the core incentives into their, financial assessment. So we look at a system technically and financially, so what is the configuration of technologies, but also what's the business case for achieving that? What's my return investment, my payback period, my internal rate of return, all those kind of key factors. And so we include things like in the us the Inflation Reduction Act, local incentives that really move the needle and then we ensure that the customer specifies that the suppliers, here's how we've considered it, is what I want you to do to achieve that. And if there are any other incentives that we're overlooking, please factor that in. So yeah, we certainly want to support the supply side available to differentiate themselves, drive value into the market. What we really want to support customers to do is just make sure that they are creating the right business opportunity. And taking control of pushing that into the market because that's when we see the best opportunities. But we don't want to take away the value that the supplier side of the market brings because the suppliers in this market are awesome. You know, we've got all the technology, all the construction services, all the capital that we need to really move the needle for industries worldwide. But how do we support those suppliers to get access to quality projects and not be chasing this sort of customer indecision. This is the challenge the market faces today. Customer is sold to by supplier. Customer doesn't necessarily trust whether they're being sold the right thing, which leads to indecision, which then leads to a lot of churn and not a lot of action. And so how do we remove that churn? Because that makes up, some of the stats say between 30 and 70% of project costs today are those kind of bloated, soft cost consulting, engineering, procurement, construction, sales, marketing. So how do we compress all that out of the system and actually pay for the solutions to be deployed versus all the buildup to that process.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Nice. Any particularly innovative solutions you've seen rolled out?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, well we're seeing definitely, multiple technologies being deployed. You know, we're working with a, a huge a erospace and defense contractor, globally, and they have one site in particular that's almost 20 megawatt load. And so they had everything from solar and this was canopy solar of ah car parks cuz they couldn't do rooftop solar, battery energy storage. Wind turbine was actually recommended as a priority. What they'll do likely do is develop a project without the wind component first, cuz that takes a little longer to develop. Mm-hmm. But knowing that they can incorporate that if they want to. And then actually gas turbines for backup. And that was still cleaner than their grid location, which was fairly heavy still coal and gas. So we've even been able to deploy gas solutions into coal heavy utility areas. Really moves the needle. We're seeing some cool opportunities with fuel cells, particularly for industrial customers, as well as, waste heat recovery. Okay. So a lot of these heavy industries, you know, generate a lot of waste heat and being able to capture that creates energy, is a really good opportunity. And so we've got suppliers in our marketplace who specialize in that, and so we don't necessarily model that, but we support the customer to capture the specs around what is the waste heat? What are the inputs and outputs of that process that then those specialist companies can really look at. Ice kind of storage as well is an interesting one. You know, creating ice when you've got excess, energy and then using that ice to either generate energy or Cool, cool the asset down when you need it. Yeah, so there's, there's some really, really interesting technologies in the market today. But I'd say certainly the, the bulk of it is solar plus storage with some maybe another component added to it.

Tom Raftery:

Right? Yeah, no, cuz I used to work for SAP and their North American headquarters, uh, in Pennsylvania, in Newtown Square, in their new building there, they've got ice energy storage, uh, that you mentioned a while ago. They use it for aircon. So they, they generate ice when the electricity is cheap. And then obviously during the day when electricity's more expensive, they can just use the ice as part of the air con system. And uh, it saves them a lot in terms of emissions and costs as well. So it's a nice system. I gotta, I gotta look at it a few years ago I gotta tour the facility. Really impressive setup.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, that's awesome. And certainly, you know, we're seeing lots of very innovative solutions out there. Everything from energy vaults kind of crane that picks up concrete blocks and drops them and generates and stores energy. It'll be really, really interesting to see how some of these different concepts play out in the market. How, how scalable they are across the industry. Um, yeah. But yeah,

Tom Raftery:

anything on the EV front?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. EVs are certainly becoming obviously a hot topic, and particularly with the fact that the grid infrastructure isn't really set up to be able to deal with all that load. And so if you're trying to interconnect to the grid and draw down from the grid, particularly if you want to start deploying level one chargers, which have a fair, you know, a fairly significant, load requirements, you know, I think you can get away with deploying level two chargers without too many upgrades or being able to put in a bit of your own solar and storage. But once you start wanting to go to fast chargers, it's a totally different story, and so we we're not seeing projects pencil, unless customers are willing to deploy their own energy solution to be able to support that. If you wanna tap into the grid for that, it's not not gonna work. So yeah, that's a, it's a really interesting space. It's something that I don't think customers have really figured out at scale yet. Especially, uh, even the EV developers, you know, we're not seeing people who are trying to sell the energy staying in business, so they're having to be really creative with how they deploy these systems and what their commercial models are. Some of them have gone down the route of selling the flat scheme TV marketing components, and that becomes their source of revenue, whether it's utilizing the carbon credits, the low carbon fuel standards, so how can they monetize the offsets versus the actual energy c omponent. So I, I think that industry's got a, a ways to go and it'll be interesting to see who, who cracks that knot in terms of lots of small deployments at scale. And that's, I think that's what the industry's struggling with most is with building these mega projects, forever. Mm-hmm. Whether it was coal, nuclears, solar, wind, and now all those businesses set up with very big project mentality and big project focus and the industry's having to rapidly figure out how to do a lot more projects that are smaller, less margin, and do them across a, a larger geographic region, at scale. So I think that's the real opportunity for those that figure out how to still cover their risk profile, but manage to deploy these systems, far more efficiently and effectively. They'll be the ones who win.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. How about things like community grids? Have you been involved in any of those kind of projects?

Gareth Evans:

So we, we personally don't because we support commercial industrial business owners. Mm-hmm. I

Tom Raftery:

was just thinking, I was just wondering, were there any housewives, any, any instances where a couple of businesses came together kind of analogous to community storage?

Gareth Evans:

We personally haven't worked on that and we're seeing I think, uh, you know, right in our backyard, I know whether you're tracking the, the Sunova situation where someone had proposed to build a community microgrid in California and it's being blocked by, by the commission here. And I think that's, it's very interesting to see what's going on because I think more and more communities now saying, we're not getting what we need from our utility provider. We want to explore other options. And yet it's being blocked because I think this, once the first one topples, then it becomes a bit of a death spiral for the utility then because people realize that yeah, they can achieve their objectives with other providers and those other providers can provide, you know, generate a community microgrid or a community solution. I don't think this is really now setting the trend for the future energy. I think utilities still think about others as being rate payers versus being customers. And so their whole commitment model is, how can I spend more capital? Include that in your rate, and then deploy that capital and that is their business model. Instead of thinking about what is in the best interest of our customers, how do we generate a affordable, reliable, clean energy and allow them to almost be pro consumers instead of passive consumers. Today we don't know where the energy comes from. Even how we'll get it. We have no control over how much it should cost, and so these community projects are really starting to challenge that status quo. And I think it's exciting gets started here with the community choice aggregators. Those who use the utilities transmission distribution infrastructure, but they wholesale buy or develop their own solutions from a generation perspective. I think the utilities that are most forward thinking and realise that they can access more flexible, more resilient infrastructure that's distributed, and then they just figure out how to orchestrate that. They'll be the ones that succeed and those that don't, they'll get disrupted. And, yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, no, because I, I was talking a few years ago to the CFO of Wein Energie, who are the, the big energy providers for Vienna in Austria. And they have a fabulous community solar project going where they build out, uh, solar plants and they sell these solar panels to their customers. So they say to the customers, give us, and I'm making the numbers up now, but give us a thousand euro and you get access to your own panel and you get the electricity from that panel on a a rev share basis. and if you, give us a thousand euro, you'll make this much money from that solar panel over the next 20 years. And they say, if you take that same thousand euro and put it in a deposit account or a high interest savings account, this is how much you would earn from that same thousand euros. And you can see that the balance is in favor of the solar panel. And you know, when they, when they rolled out the first one of those community solar plants, they sold out all the panels in a week. And the subsequent 24 solar plants that they created after that sold out in less than 24 hours each. So it's, it's been wildly successful for them. Now, this was a couple of years ago, so they've probably done a few more since. But, uh, it, it, I mean, innovative ideas like that are just so cool to hear about.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. The one I was told about the other day, not quite the same, but I like the kind of community aspect of it was VB, the brewer down in Australia, They had set up a program where it was essentially a loyalty program where if you as a homeowner had solar panels on your roof and you didn't necessarily need all the energy that you're producing, you'd essentially sell out through blockchain technology to the brewery, either in the form of the carbon reduction or the energy itself. And then once you earn a certain amount of dollarage, you then got sent a crate of beer. And so it became, you know, real cool kinda loyalty program where it was customers back, but they actually got the value of a steady flow of, of their beer, of choice. So I really like that. Nice. And I, nice. Excited to see as,

Tom Raftery:

as a devoted, as a devoted beer drinker, that one speaks straight to my heart. Yeah, exactly. Or maybe my liver.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. Nice. And I genuinely think that's the future, isn't it? I think all of us will be prosumers in a sense that we'll have easy to use apps. You know, once the tech guys really get involved in this space and we have an easy to use app where we can say these appliances in my home, I don't care whether they need to be turned off when the grid needs the energy and I'm happy to be compensated for it, or I overgenerate in these times. And I'm willing to sell that back to whether it's your neighbor, whether it's your local charity. Whether it's to a corporate who has set these targets and they dunno how to achieve them, and maybe you can exchange your carbon credits for access to their product or their services. And so I think you'll really create that circular economy and almost take us back to the day of communities being really self, self-dependent and being able to trade value. Not everyone is gonna be able to afford all the solar panels and batteries that they need. But they can source the energy from their neighbor at a fraction at the cost. And so I, I think that's how we build real sustainable communities of the future.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. If my solar panels are making me beer, I'm happy. Speaking of austria, Australia, places like that, where, where, what markets are you guys addressing?

Gareth Evans:

Yep. today our biggest focus from a sales and marketing perspective is certainly the US That's certainly where the, the market has the most pain, I'd say right now. And also the most opportunity to grow at scale, especially with the likes of the Inflation Reduction Act. So being released and they're being hundreds of billions of dollars of incentive money being pushed into the industry. Also has some of the,

Tom Raftery:

the US also has some of the oldest creekiest, uh, infrastructure. Right. I remember exactly hearing about 10 years ago, I remember hearing that the, the expected lifespan of a substation was 30 years, and the average lifespan of a, or sorry, the average age of a substation in the US was 50. So it was like, whoops. Yeah. It's your problem right there.

Gareth Evans:

Exactly. It really is, and it is a massive problem. And people don't realize how big of a problem it is until the lights do go off, you know? Mm-hmm. We always think it's gonna happen to someone else until it doesn't, and then it happens to us, and suddenly you get that eerie quiet sound when everything shuts down. You know we're seeing. But we're doing projects all around the world, you know? So, uh, we've got a big customer in Europe who has a huge customer base that we're starting to get a lot of exposure through their channels into that market. We've done projects in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia. I think the areas in the news are experiencing some of the biggest needs right now. South Africa is really in trouble. You know, the utility there is turning the power off 12 hours a day. And so it's impossible to run a business when you have no guaranteed energy. And this was honestly the catalyst, one of the catalysts for me with Veckta Tom is, I saw this kind of firsthand when I was working on the ground in Iraq and we were there helping oil and gas companies to extract some of the biggest oil and gas reserves in the world to feed our, you know, your and my energy needs. And yet, after 20 years of war, their infrastructure there was devastated. And so they had access to two to four hours of power a day. People are having to run on diesel gen sets if they can afford it. And you can see how much of an impact that then has on communities, on businesses, it's impossible to survive. And unfortunately, south Africa's going that way. Mm-hmm. And I think people feel like South Africa, it's, it's a completely different situation to what we could see in Europe or America. But actually it's, there's a lot of parallels and it doesn't take many things. Um, no, it's got huge potential. Yeah. If you, pardon the pun, Exactly. Yeah. I love it. And so I think we all need to be aware of that and, uh, support the industry.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. Yeah. Nice, nice. Where to next for Veckta?

Gareth Evans:

Yeah. Early days in this industry, I think people are really starting to understand the pain points and the opportunities, and so we want to be the platform, every business leader in the world thinks about when they're thinking about their energy transition. So, uh, there's a lot of, lot of work we've gotta do to educate the market, build our brand, build our awareness. So there's a huge part of that is supporting your listeners to understand what's going on around the world, and the opportunities for them as a business. And so that's really what we're driving and well, the beauty our software products, is we can continually refine, improve, and build out the features that our customers need and so, we want to go on that journey with our customers. This is not a one and done opportunity for businesses. This is a 10, 20, 30 plus year transition. So let's learn together. Let's empower each other. Let's collaborate, let's figure out what we all need and let's go on the journey together because we're not gonna fix this individually or overnight. And so our jobs, you know, the reason why Veckta exists is to bring the whole market, up together. Let's support customers, but let's also empower the supply side of the market. And that's how we win, is, driving down the cost of these systems, making more people aware of them, making the whole ecosystem more efficient and effective together. And then we can see mass deployment of these systems and really help reduce our emissions while also profitable outcomes.

Tom Raftery:

Nice. Lovely. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Gareth. Is there any question that I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to think about?

Gareth Evans:

I, I'd just say that, um, for business leaders, I know it can feel overwhelming, it can feel complex. You see some of the stats coming out of Accenture and CDP, you know, businesses are making the right commitments. And so I applaud all of you for making these commitments. Let's now turn these commitments and these ideas in action because that's when, that's when you really benefit. Um mm-hmm. You much value from the marketing campaigns, but truly actually executing these plans will really differentiate you. And I think in any transition there are winners and there's losers, and I would hope that none of your listeners end up on the, the losing side of that equation because the businesses that will win are the people who adapt purposefully and really see the transition as being an opportunity to, to really accelerate their businesses and stand out and build customer loyalty and employee loyalty and also do right by our community as well. Also being able to make more money to deploy it back into the likes of these opportunities. So that will be, the closing comment.

Tom Raftery:

Lovely, lovely, lovely. Great. Gareth. If people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we talked about on the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Gareth Evans:

Yep. Uh, Veckta's a great resource. Our website, www.veckta.com. We're also very active on LinkedIn and Twitter through Veckta. And then for myself. Yeah, link. LinkedIn's probably the best place to catch me. Gareth dot Evans, uh, g a r e t h e v a n s. And uh, yeah, have you look at Gareth Evans Veckta. You should find me, but I can also share my link tree, um, yeah, sure. Link Tom that you can attach and that's got access to all YouTube channels, um, social media feeds, so yeah,

Tom Raftery:

perfect. Shoot me across that link and I'll put it in the show notes and that way everyone has access to it.

Gareth Evans:

Great. Sounds great. Cheers, Tom.

Tom Raftery:

That's been fascinating. Garrett. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Gareth Evans:

Yeah, it's a pleasure. Thanks for, uh, thanks for having me, and I look forward to the next time.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about the Climate Confident podcast, feel free to drop me an email to Tom raftery@outlook.com. Or message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please, don't forget to click follow on it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks, catch you all next time.

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