Australia-headquartered Allume Energy announced it received a $1.5 million bridge investment from Elemental Excelerator and the Schmidt Family Foundation, which Allume plans to use to deploy its technology and bring rooftop solar to more than 4,000 residents in the Southeast U.S., beginning with solar projects in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
Solar PV systems tend to be designed for one-to-one connections and deploying them in multi-unit buildings can pose unique challenges. Asset owners pay for the systems, but residents benefit from lower utility costs, according to Mel Bergsneider, executive account manager at Allume Energy. Solar PV systems also have a lifespan that exceeds the short-term stays of apartment renters.
The company’s behind-the-meter technology, called SolShare, helps address this “split incentive” challenge by allocating power to common areas and apartment units. It is able to allocate the solar energy generated by rooftop panels to each grid meter. In addition, it also keeps tabs on the building’s energy demand, and delivers solar energy in a way that maximizes solar consumption and provides bill savings.
Residents in apartments can lower their utility bills by using on-site solar power and reducing their consumption from the grid, Bergsneider told pv magazine USA.
“Direct access to solar can protect against increasing utility rates. Each kWh consumed from solar PV helps residents avoid rising electric grid charges,” Bergsneider said.
The company estimates that its technology can help residents save up to 40% on their electricity bills. Participants in its first pilot project in the U.S., in Orlando, saw average annual savings of $1166 per apartment in the first year, the company reported. This included net metering credit savings. Earlier this year, Allume Energy, RENU Communities, and ESA Solar announced the successful commissioning of a solar installation that will generate renewable electricity for the 296-unit apartment complex, Canopy Apartment Villas. The 165 kW DC rooftop solar was installed in two phases on 12 buildings.
The company also has a project in Jackson, Mississippi, and will soon begin installing its third U.S. project in Orlando. The Mississippi project, which was announced in March, is located at a multi-family building with a 22kW solar array, installed by Louisiana-based contractor Solar Alternatives. Allume’s next projects in the South East are continuing into the end of the third quarter and beginning of fourth quarter, Bergsneider said.
Until recently, solar technology has largely been saving money for people who already have it, Cameron Knox, Allume’s CEO and co-founder, said.
“We need to ensure we include everyone in the energy transition. This partnership will ensure low-income communities can benefit from clean, affordable energy from the sun,” Knox added.
Elemental Excelerator is a non-profit climate technologies investor, with a portfolio of more than 150 companies, while the Schmidt Family Foundation is a philanthropic initiative focused on renewable energy, resilient food systems, and other areas.
“We originally invested in Allume Energy because they are leaders in bringing affordable solar to affordable housing. We could all use an extra $1,000 a year in our pocketbooks rather than spent on electricity bills,” Dawn Lippert, founder and CEO of Elemental Excelerator, said.
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