Article: 5 questions with Michael Jary, Managing Director APAC & EMEA, Sense (UK)

What keeps you up at night when you think about the transition in Australia?

An inevitable, but necessary, consequence of the energy transition, is that energy supply becomes less controllable, whilst demand surges. Balancing the grid will be crucial if Australia is to deliver carbon reductions, whilst maintaining supply and managing prices for consumers. However, too many of the solutions being explored by the industry are either too expensive to scale or too ineffective to make a difference. Failing to square this circle could undermine the entire energy transition in this country.

What exciting developments are inspiring you at the moment?

The potential of generative AI to turbocharge the energy transition.

How is Sense’s approach different to other organisations in the energy sector?

Sense provides AI software for next generation smart meters that helps consumers understand in real time what appliances are using power in their home, enables domestic demand response at scale, and also reduces the costs of maintaining and balancing the grid. The technology is completely unique in itself. No other company can reliably and accurately identify at an appliance level what is consuming power in real time, and no other party can locate and identify faults as well on the grid, using smart meters. However, what is truly distinctive is that Sense software is both highly scalable (just incremental cost of software on a smart meter, often deployed over the air) and also very effective - grids equipped with Sense software can shift up to 18% of load at peak times.

We hear a lot of concern that the transition is not moving fast enough. What do you see as potential solutions for unblocking some of the current gridlock?

The most consequential step would be to deploy next generation smart meters to every home in Australia. Smart meters deployed to date have not been smart enough. However, if they are specified with high resolution data, grid edge processing, and real time connectivity, they have the best ROI of any other investment in delivering the energy transition. The incremental cost is tiny compared to the other solutions on offer. But they can simultaneously help people reduce their consumption, balance the grid, defer expensive upgrades, enable faster take up of EV’s and DER, and reduce the cost of maintaining and operating the network.

Are there any ‘hidden’ or less discussed issues that the energy sector needs to be more aware of?

The prospect of a new wave of entrants, ready to enter the retail market, and disrupt existing business models. The recent approval of Tesla Energy Ventures as a retailer in the energy market is emblematic of the shift. With control of demand becoming as important as provision of supply, retailers will need to continue to innovate to differentiate.

You can catch Michael Jary speaking in the Future Retail Stream of Australian Energy Week 2024 (13 June).

To access the detailed conference program, download the brochure here.

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