Taking the pain out of managing small scale renewable energy projects
Kyle Smith originally set up Energy Mutual as a consultancy in 2013 while studying his PhD in Electrical Engineering, working as an independent consultant for small scale community energy projects. Fast forward to 2019, and Kyle decided he wanted to take the next step of creating a fully-fledged business, particularly due to the increased interest in renewable energy.
Kyle saw an opportunity to turn his expertise into a commercial venture. As Kyle explains, “Over the past ten years, the government has been promoting small scale renewable energy generation at the community level - on farms, factories and other similar sites. I noticed that, after about two years of operation, these systems start to need more attention to ensure they’re generating to their potential, and that the asset owners usually don’t have the capacity or knowledge to do that themselves.”
In the beginning, the main bulk of Energy Mutual’s work included face to face meetings and site visits to small hydro systems or small wind turbines. Kyle’s expertise allowed him to help the owners of such systems maximise their generation by resolving any problems or faults that arose, as well as identifying new opportunities. He was providing hands-on management, but Kyle’s overall aim was to find a way to automate the processes required, making it more efficient and affordable in the long run.
Because the revenue for small-scale renewable assets can be quite low compared to the larger, utility-scale wind farms and hydro schemes, it’s relatively expensive for their owners to use a hands-on manager. Kyle saw an opportunity to develop a platform that would collect performance data from these systems and automate the management process. For that, however, a new approach and business tools were needed.