While the energy debate about affordable, reliable and clean energy is set to continue to dominate the news in Australia, EnergyLab is establishing operations in emerging markets in Asia. Based on the successful launch and roll-out in Australia, it recently set up its operations in Phnom Penh and will explore expanding to other countries in the future.
The Cambodian operations are headed by Bridget McIntosh, an experienced Australian entrepreneur with over 10 years experience working in Cambodia and Asia, who speaks Khmer and has a strong network and connections in the country.
"EnergyLab will help startups tackle problems including energy access, mobility, agriculture, water and industry. In October 2017, we organised the Climathon in Sydney - a global hackathon for climate-related ideas organised by Climate-KIC - specifically to find solutions that can be deployed in Cambodia. Eight teams battled out their ideas to 'facilitate access to clean energy in Cambodia'" says EnergyLab's Director of Emerging Markets Bridget McIntosh.
"We are very excited to bring Australian expertise to Cambodia where entrepreneurs can work alongside other Australian startups like Okra Solar and local startups who have intimate knowledge of the local context and market" adds McIntosh.
EASE Energy, a team of five energy and development professionals, aim to provide cheaper, more convenient and more sustainable energy to Cambodian communities. The team developed a business model that can help provide energy to millions of people in Cambodia who currently rely on car batteries and diesel generators to power their homes and community buildings. They have spoken to other local businesses in Cambodia and learned that current battery charging is hazardous, dirty and inefficient. They were surprised to learn that operators often 'listen' to hear if the battery is boiling to know if it's charged. Although weekly charging is cheap - at 50c/week - the continual replacement of the batteries actually contributed to very high costs of electricity for Cambodian households. EASE Energy is investigating a "swap and pay" business model solution utilising new compact battery technologies and a local community solar hub which provides longer life batteries and more convenient access to charging at a lower cost. Their initial analysis - currently being tested in the field - indicates a 2.5-year system payback, and could potentially provide customers with up to 70% cheaper electricity than their current costs. Two of the team members are currently exploring opportunities in rural Cambodia and also connected with local startups there at an EnergyLab organised event held at the UNDP offices. The event included other long-term renewable energy companies in Cambodia, such as Kamworks, as well as the Secretary-General of the National Council for Sustainable Development. The event explored how new technologies can enable and improved distributed energy and energy access. "We were surprised by the interest in the event - the event sold out and the audience appreciated the format that allowed informative panel discussion with networking to share ideas and learnings!" said McIntosh.
With support form Origin Energy, University of Technology Sydney and Climate-KIC and the NSW Government through Jobs for NSW, EnergyLab now offers clean energy startups a place to work and collaborate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Cambodia with a focus on developing CleanTech solutions in the renewable and advanced energy sectors.