Insider's Guide to Energy

Episode 35 The $90 trillion gap to NetZero

August 29, 2021 Chris Sass Season 1 Episode 35
Insider's Guide to Energy
Episode 35 The $90 trillion gap to NetZero
Show Notes Transcript

The $90 trillion gap to net zero is an exciting episode where Chris and Johan are joined by the CEO of Enian Phillip Bruner.   He shares his experience building maps and other important data to help renewable project leaders and investors expidite the process.  With better data risk of failure decreases and investors have a better chance of success.  

Broadcasting from the commodity capital of the world, Zurich, Switzerland, this is ‘Insiders Guide to Energy’. 

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 | Timestamp | Speaker | Transcript

 | 06:53.16 | chrissass | Welcome to insider's guide to energy I'm your host chris sass and with me as always his co-host Johann oberg yohan how's going today.
| 07:08.48 | Johan | Sunny greetings from Switzerland finally the Summer's here and we're approaching a new h 2 eager to go both on the podcast and my day-to-day job how you been doing.
| 07:17.69 | chrissass | Well I I've been enjoying the one week of summer we're having this year in Switzerland it's the first time I don't think I've seen rain in 24 hours it's been a great Summer so far for 24 hours. Um, you know as my kids start school next week I consider at the end of Summer. So it's it's a bit. Of a short summer this year I'm longing for for a real Summer. So um, but what what I am excited about is is getting the podcast out this week and doing the show prep had a lot of fun reading about our guest figuring out you know, somebody that saw a problem or. Central problem coming in took his passion ran with it and started a company to go solve it and you know what's interesting is so many of us take for granted that we want sustainable energy and renewable and we we hear all these. Government initiatives across whichever country. You're in whether it's you know a current 1 from the Biden administration whether it's the eu commission saying you know we we have to do certain things but at at all, it's all predicated on having renewable energy and scale. And how do you get these projects out there at the rate so that 20302050 and these these dates sound far away but they're not how do we achieve that goal and that's what I hope our guest shares a little bit with us today I don't know johan what? What? What are you thinking.
| 08:34.90 | Johan | Now I agree and I and you spot on I think we talking about 202055 even 2040 and I think in in en energy years. It's not like dog ears. It's it goes quick I think we're going to be there much quicker than we think and this is a big tanker to turn around. So I think that's clear for sure. But I think it's interesting. You know on the show we've had guests now where we're up to a 30 plus show shows and we've had anything from lobbyists in terms of the politicians. We have the financial part the investment part but we've also touched obviously on sustainability which will be interesting to to hear more from but what I am also. Very interesting to hear from our guest today. So basically 2 things 1 is how do we apply? New technologies into this 1 where does they fit is it just buswords or are they really being used and what do they define and the second part which would be interesting to see is also in the investment part. You know we we are looking at maybe a new generation of people in the industry that are encouraging companies to grow even outside of the corporations with different kind of summits etc so we're really looking forward to it. We'll see if he agrees.
| 09:49.41 | chrissass | We'll find out as always you and I have our our opinions we're we're not afraid to state them and be blatantly correct or blatantly wrong and whichever the case may be but rather than guessing let's let's invite our guest to the show and and and find out more about his background so without further ado I'd like to introduce. Philip bernier philip is ceo of anyan philip welcome to the program.
| 10:09.72 | Phillip | Thanks guys. It's good to be here and appreciate you having me.
| 10:14.30 | chrissass | Well, we're as you can tell we're anticipating a great Show. We're We're looking forward it Hopefully the internet hasn't steered us wrong and and our pre pregame has us on track of what you do, but before we get into exactly what that is maybe just a small background about yourself for our audience or our listeners know who you are and. What what you do from your perspective.
| 10:33.52 | Phillip | Sure thing. So um, well as you can hear I'm an american but I'm also an expat so I've been living in the u k for about the last fifteen years and I came to scotland back in 2009 as an academic. So my original. Ah, entry into theirnewable energy sector was studying geopolitics and and being an academic researcher in that field and interestingly around that time back in 2009? Um Scotland had the most ambitious renewable energy electrification program in the world. Had aimed to go 1 hundred percent renewable by 2030 I believe it was at the time there was a huge buzz um in Scotland around you know trying to make scotland ah a renewable energy powerhouse on the world stage. And yeah, there are potential implications for for the u k as a whole and for europe and so um I got very much involved in in all of that and ended up getting pretty distracted from my ph d started a couple of project development businesses and then went into tech about 3 years ago and started this company to try and accelerate. And solve some of the pain points that I experience as a developer.
| 11:47.39 | chrissass | So what kind of pain points. Are you talking about I think I have some idea from the pre-show of what what we might go to but probably better to to hear it from you So you you were doing some project kind of work and you saw hurdles. Perhaps So what are they.
| 12:02.12 | Phillip | Oh yeah, yeah, so project. Development is a lot of fun. Firstly project developers are are jacks of all trades they're renaissance people they have to balance competing interests from different stakeholders with different agendas. They have to be. Ah, financiers they have to be entrepreneurs. They have to be technologists so the really fun thing about being a project developer is you get to speak every day with lots of different kinds of people and and you know you get to build coalitions to bring projects forward. So that's the fun part. Um. Downside of course and we're talking about project development at commercial scale is that projects move very slowly and there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of risk involved at the early stages of project design. So 1 of the the big pains that project developers experience has to do with uncertainty around grid connection. Um, you know you can find ah a great landowner that you can partner with or you can find a great resource. You know a very windy or very sunny part of the land area that you're looking at and it can be. You know there can be lots of other projects in the surrounding area that makes it look like it's a go. But then you know. Figuring out what the grid situation is going to be like is always ah a difficult challenge and then on top of that you know there's a lot of uncertainty around whether or not a project will get planning consent if a local community might oppose a project for some reason you need to figure that out. You need to know who you're dealing with on the land side. Um, you know are they a bankable partner have they had similar you know have they done previous ghosts in the past that they've that they've you know, been an active participant and a champion of so there's there's a lot of political risks. And technical risk involved in in project development that makes projects move very slowly so typical project. The commercial wind farm can take up to 7 or 8 years in development even though it might only take six months to construct and of course that's a really long time and. You know we don't have time to spare if we're going to meet the the ambition set forward by the paris climate accords.
| 14:08.14 | Johan | So in terms of in terms of these projects and the scope of the projects I think it's pretty clear. It's It's not small projects. There's so this a multiple of of stakeholders involved. Ah, who do you contact who's your main. Ah, main guys so to speak are you who hires you.
| 14:30.28 | Phillip | So in my career as a developer I'm in tech now so we sell software but in my in my career as a developer. Um, you know we tried to identify landowners using data. We tried to basically take a data-driven approach to. Finding out good areas to new projects. The big gap for developers doesn't matter if you're working for a small or large corporate The big challenge is that you typically don't own the land where the sites being developed. So um, you know you need to have some kind of engagement with the the person or or corporation that owns that land. Um, and in in the u k a lot of times landowners are are difficult to identify. They have different structures that that they use to manage to managed operations on the on the property there can be you know trust develop the trusts or um. They can be private companies with their own revenue streams and their own their own business plans. Um, so you know ah when it comes to doing development at scale. You need to know who owns the land. Ah you know where other projects are going on are those projects yielding competitively who's investing in those projects. Are they getting a bankable greek connection date. There's a lot of factors that go into kind of developing your intelligent filter. You know, separating your 8 year your twenty percent from the 80 percent of projects that will yield ah profitable results for your for your business.
| 15:56.45 | chrissass | And so you were developer you you've got the history of having done that and then you you decided somewhere along the way to transition to selling software as you said so you know you're you're solving a problem I suppose So tell us about the transition. What? What. What's changed so I can understand that you know that was hard to find the landowners and ah and there was a lot of uncertainty from what you've described I mean these are the the nuggets I've picked up from the conversation so far So How does software software help or how does that turn into something software can fix.
| 16:30.77 | Phillip | It's a good question so we started any and about 4 years ago myself my co-founder veron sharma who was formerly with Bbox joined me and we built a. Ah, group of people from software engineering backgrounds investment backgrounds and development backgrounds and renewables to try and tackle this problem. Um, the very first thing we thought we did was we built the database or we started building a database. And that database today has grown to be what is to our knowledge the the most complete power Networks data set in the world. We currently have data for grid maps and power plants in 100 and ninety five countries so we started with the data set. And what that dataset enables you to do as a developer is it makes the the power network visible really for the first time I mean when you're when you you don't have this data then the the network is invisible to you so it's hard to it's hard to make interventions in a system if you can't see it. You know it's almost like a doctor. You know, trying to evaluate a patient without having access to their vitals. You know without doing an x-ray like you need to be able to see what's going on in the system to be able to make intelligent interventions and so first thing we did was we we built this this energy data set it currently contains all different fuel types. Ah, in terms of the grid network we have substations, transmission towers buses high voltage lines you can zoom in and click on all that stuff to get information about each individual feature. Um, and then we have ev charging stations hydrogen power plants or hydrogen storage plants and then also increasingly battery storage plants as well. So that data set is kind of at the core of of our software and then on top of that we've built a workflow platform that basically enables a project developer to manage all of their tasks. Files and financials as well as explore the dataset simultaneously. So it's kind of ah it's an all in 1 dashboard that enables a project developer to do everything that they need to do but online in the cloud in collaboration with with whomever they choose to involve in in their portfolio.
| 18:41.45 | chrissass | So is it providing real time sensor data from these points on on the map. So in 100 and some odd countries. You basically have internet of things kind of or control data for for all these devices so you can see what's happening or is it just saying what's there.
| 18:58.81 | Phillip | It's just saying what's there. It's it's much more like Google maps. So the the interface itself actually looks a lot like Google maps and is also searchable in a similar way. So it. It looks like Google maps but it's got instead of just having. Ah, topographical data and information about different building rural features in particular city or or region. It also has the entire grid network mapped. It has all the power stations mapped and increasingly.
| 19:23.17 | chrissass | Um, overlaying the and the the physical map then.
| 19:27.97 | Phillip | That's right overlaid on on the on the physical map and it's all clickable and searchable. So it's it's kind of like Google maps for energy in a way you can zoom in. You can see exactly what's going on a particular subset of the network you can click around on on all the different features of the network and see who owns what you know what? the capacity is a particular feature. Um. You know if there are any potential competitors or or partners that you might work with on ah on a particular site so it it is literally just making the system transparent and visible for the first time.
| 19:58.71 | Johan | So is this for for a developer is is the software even for for for larger developers or smaller or is there any differentiation here if in terms of size of the you know so some of the larger ones have all the resource they need and some of them might not and. You see any differentiation or is this really an asset for for all of them.
| 20:22.49 | Phillip | We're mainly targeting the sort of commercial smaller to Midcap developers with the software and that doesn't and just include it doesn't just include developers themselves but also includes anyone who's investing in development or in construction. So our target market are basically midcap. Um, you know, distributed generation players that are involved in the distributed market. Super large you know offs sore offshore wind farms or really massive utility scale solar arrays. Um, they can use the software to to manage those projects but ah, really the the software is built for volume. So. If. You've got a pipeline of let's say 30 to 1 hundred projects that you're trying to evaluate and you're trying to you know, figure out what your what your but your top 5 projects are going to be and and filter those down and and focus all of your team and your tasks on bringing those projects forward. Our tool is incredibly useful for that and then it also and enables you to interface with all the different stakeholders stakeholders you need along the lifecycle which includes investors as well. If you're an investor with a portfolio of projects and you're investing in developing construction. You can also use the software for. For your portfolio management.
| 21:36.27 | Johan | So so so out of interest. Um, we've had on the show a bit in terms of maturity on Digital. You know some countries are ahead. Some countries are might lacking a little bit behind some regions etc. Do you see adoptions of software because i. I assume this has been done manually before in 1 way or the other and then you see any any differences between regions of adopting to this kind of software because this is fairly new. This is a new way of working is do you see any differences between regions. So.
| 21:55.34 | Phillip | Now.
| 22:06.23 | Phillip | So Really good Question. There's definitely cultural differences in in the attitude toward software um us market tends to be the most most bullish we have a lot of interest from us developers and Portfolio managers. Um I don't want to kind of you know. Try and talk about Europe in a single breath because Europe is is 26 different nations with very different cultures. But um, within Europe we do see the investment community being pretty switched on when it comes to software and increasingly developers are are embracing software tools as Well. And the 1 thing that has sped all of this up is is Covid so you know having having to continue to push your pipeline forward and continue to move projects forward ah remotely has been a huge challenge for project managers everywhere and they're increasingly turning towards software.
| 22:43.38 | Johan | And.
| 22:57.98 | Phillip | Um, so you know what you find in the industry is you know Microsoft teams is ubiquitous. Um, you know virtual data room providers like dropbox are are pretty often used everyone uses excel for all sorts of of good reasons and and bad I mean excel gets used in all sorts of ways that excel was never meant to be used for an email as well. Um, so increasingly we're just kind of saying you know this is a tool that you can use to kind of you know, help you stop sending so many emails. Maybe you can get off dropbox because that wasn't really built for us. Anyway, you don't really need to use Microsoft excel as a project management tool. You can just. Use it for your cash flows and integrate your cash flows with our system and then use our our system to manage your teams and your and your tasks and your schedules. So um, you know the the approach I guess has been kind of has been kind of ad hoc. Um you know, project developers ah to their to their credit. Have not had purpose-buil software designed specifically for their their market so they're kind of reaching around just grabbing whatever they can get um and and that tends to be the norm when it comes to workflow.
| 24:06.68 | chrissass | So how big is the market I'm obviously the Ceo of a company you started. So you've done market studies. What what is the market like is are we at a stage where there's still not consolidation lots and lots of small projects kicking off.
| 24:12.98 | Phillip | Um.
| 24:24.19 | chrissass | Or is it kind in like agriculture where we've consolidated a few huge conglomerates that you know are building. Big foot big farms I mean where where are we in the stage of the energy business for renewables right now and then what's what's the size of pipeline or folks that would be using this kind of a platform.
| 24:42.10 | Phillip | That's a fun question. So um, interestingly renewables because of the nature of the resource. It's really hard to vertically integrate a renewables business because renewables is inherently distributed so you generate and consume power on site. The distributed nature of the industry means that even if large players want to try and consolidate. They're still at the at the the heest of local players because it's the local. A person or local trust or local organization that owns a land or the asset where the where the solar or wind farm is being built. Um, so because of that smaller players will always kind of hold the keys to the Market. Um, and the distributed nature of renewables means that you know it's it's boom time. Ah, you know new companies are cropping up all the time to do development commercial real estate is increasingly looking at how they can get in on the game oil and gas are under pressure to start pivoting and diversifying their portfolios and and doing more renewables so it is kind of a feeding frenzy at the moment and we're. Fully poised to to capitalize on that. Um, the interesting thing as well. I guess is that from a kind of volume point of view. We do see that that larger projects while they tend to be you know the ones that are more visible because they get more pressed are not really the norm. It's the Midcap market that seems to be accelerating and that's simply because you know there are more opportunities in in the smaller cap space. You know the larger opportunities quickly get identified and developed by the larger players but the the volume the scale for the market. Is is kind of in the Midcap range.
| 26:20.75 | chrissass | What what defines mid cap in so terms of Euros or dollars like what yeah capacity. Okay, so what? what size projects midcap then.
| 26:24.46 | Phillip | Capacity.
| 26:30.54 | Phillip | Yeah, so Midcap project would be different from solar wind a midcapp project in solar would be sort of anything above a hundred kilowatts you know 100 kilowatts up to 2030 megawatts of solar is kind of midcap beyond that you get more into sort of utility scale and then for wind it could be a megawatt all the way up to 20 or thirty Megawatts um so if it's if it's a million dollars a megawatt then you're looking sort of between you know, 1 30 irty million dollars for a project maybe slightly larger if you've got some kind of hybrid solution where you've got storage on site. Um, so ah. I don't want to anticipat where the conversation's going to go. But there's another interesting piece to this which is who's taking development risk on the investment side and that's also something that we we talk about a lot at any and.
| 27:14.72 | Johan | So you come across. Ah you mentioned a little bit in terms of the the midcap on the small 1 which if I understand it correctly we're starting to see quite a few let's call them new. Um, ah players on the market with none or limited knowledge.
| 27:28.99 | Phillip | Um, and.
| 27:34.56 | Johan | Around energy If you're real estate. You might have focused somewhere else. Ah how how is it to work with these guys. You know, traditionally you had the big utilities. They know what they do they have done this for this is their living and suddenly now you have and a new branch. Which are branching out into something new and do you see any differences positive or or even challenging.
| 27:58.57 | Phillip | Well, yeah I mean you, you will definitely have project developers project managers who have been in the business for 1020 years who will tell you that you know the way they do. It is the best way and there are lots of different project methodologies that project developers pursue. And um, you know a lot of that Stuff. You can't automate so you know the the software that we've built is designed to allow a sophisticated project development firm to adapt their process to the cloud rather than trying to impose some kind of process upon them that said. We offer templates for new entrants. So if you want a sort of custom-but ready- to-go template for a solar pv or wind project at commercial scale. Um, we have that in the in the software. So if you're a. If you're wanting to do a solar project and create that very quickly you just click the solar template and it gives you a pre-populated data room with all the different folders and subfolders that adhere to a typical due diligence process. It gives you a schedule set up with a list of pasts of things that you will inevitably need to get done. And then it gives you kpis on the financial reporting dashboard and and the technical kpis as well that you would need to configure to track the project along the lifecycle so we try and we try and give new entrants a leg up. You know, a kind of best practice structure. Get started quickly while giving the more sophisticated players. The flexibility to basically use the software to to um to run their own process.
| 29:36.66 | chrissass | And then so the investor would use the data. How are they looking at it. So if you're an investor you've got some new entrants coming in. They've they've convinced me that their their their project's a good project. So What visibility do they have what kind of dashboards or what are they looking at. Different than me actually running the project.
| 29:55.92 | Phillip | Yeah, so um, we've got a 3 hree-tier hierarchy on the system. So it's you know project developers are are also paranoid. You know they want to make sure that. They they have total control over who sees what and when and that's that's absolutely fundamental like you need to have a lot of control over who sees what and when so that you can manage a project efficiently. That's 1 of the pitfalls of using more generalist tools like Microsoft teams to manage your your team or um. You know dropbox to manage your your external file sharing is that you can very quickly lose track of stuff and then you don't really know who has access to what so that's all that's all fundamental to to the process. So when it comes to investors. We know that project. Developers need to potentially pitch different investment models to different investors. You know, horses for courses as they say open in Scotland so in order to do that. We have ah a guest feature where you can add an investor as a guest and they will only see the financial side of the dashboard. That you share with them and if you want to create multiple dashboards and link those to multiple cash flow models and share those out with different guest investors. You can do that so they don't see anything else that's going on in the day-to-day but they get immediate access to the. The kpis basically that you're sharing with them in the model.
| 31:22.10 | chrissass | So so how is your platform transforming the industry. So what's different now that you're you're out there. you're you're 3 years in so you've got customers on your platform. Um, what's transformative what I mean what's different now if I if I was 3 years ago and I look at it today.
| 31:30.34 | Phillip | Um, yep.
| 31:39.49 | chrissass | How is my experience different.
| 31:40.00 | Phillip | So the 1 thing we're really looking at internally and and just to be totally clear. We've only this software has only been live in the market for about a month so we've been in stealth mode sort of developing software for the last 3 years but yeah the product's been been launched and is out in the market just now and we do have early customers. But um, what the 1 thing that we're tracking is um, you know our whole ambition is to make projects move faster. So the question of course is you know First of all how do you know that you're making projects move faster and secondly how do you know that by using the software projects that move faster versus using you know. The ad hoc approach so we have super granular what we call kr's objectives and key results where we're measuring. Basically what what different parts of a dashboard are doing on a day-to-day basis. So you know. My morning. My daily digest is checking in and we have about 50 companies on the platform. So I wake up in the morning I have a little dashboard that tells me how many files have been uploaded to data rooms on that day. How many new projects have been created what kind of projects are they um. What you know how many new team team members or users have been added today. Um, you know how many additional schedules have been created Today. So I I have kind of ah, an overview not of individual user profiles of the the metadata around what people are doing on the system on a day-to-day basis and that gives me a sort of understanding of The things seem to be moving in ah in a particular direction. You could imagine that if you're not using the software and you're using email for example or using a combination of like email and maybe a generalist solution like Microsoft project. You're spending a lot of time. Configuring. You're spending a lot of time chasing up people for information spending a lot of time sending emails basically instead of actually delivering work. Um, you know a good example is like when people used to build software without using slack. So um, you know we're not. Not slack for renewables I wouldn't say that we're were. We're more like a sauna for renewables. But um, before slack you know people that worked in software used to use you know more generous solutions or or would use or use email. So like you know you'd be be sending a lot of emails throughout the day. Um, and that's just a. Very inefficient way of doing things so you know the the closer you can get to um the ground truth of what's going on and and the real-time interaction of your team with the projects that they've been assigned the better and in theory that should help accelerate things along the lifecycle.
| 34:22.98 | chrissass | So so why now why? why? Why are you? I mean people generally been doing projects for a long time you you know you joined an industry that already was there I mean renewables are maturing and they're growing at ah a rapid rate Why would they start embracing technology now because I'm.
| 34:32.50 | Phillip | Um.
| 34:42.15 | chrissass | Comfortable that other people have looked at and said hey this could be automated as well. So what's different this to go around.
| 34:47.63 | Phillip | I think it's a demographic shift. So um, you know as as people from my generation from your generation chris and johan you know people I think we're all probably don't want to take too much of a stab here but we all kind of look on the cusp of sort of gen x. Maybe some early geny. But yeah gen x gen late later gen y you know we grew up with the internet we look for software to get jobs done. So um, that demographic shift is definitely taking place in the energy industry and increasingly as our generation and the younger generation grew up with. With software for energy that will become the norm. So um, you know we used to do a lot of things back in the day when we were developing projects that we would never do today just because there are tools available now for to do those things. 1 of them is is the access to data. So um. Open energy data which is kind of an academic geeky space to be involved in um has matured so um, 1 of the things that we do to maintain and grow the data map in the system is we use artificial intelligence. We pull in all of the data sets from public and academic sources on power grid features and power plants and then we use optical image recognition to validate if those those projects and features actually exist in real life. So um. That was not something that would have been even possible 3 years ago um
| 36:18.41 | chrissass | Yeah, so you buying satellite Imagery then or is is that when you're saying you're doing optical recognition is it from satelliteates.
| 36:23.54 | Phillip | so yeah we use um so we use google api to So the the matching so basically um when you pull when you pull the data from most data sets you get it in Csv form. Occasionally you get it in pdf and you have to rip it out which is a pain and. We hope you know if governments if people working in departments of energy and and academia are listening. We hope you will publish your data in Csv for for public consumption because that just makes everyone's life easier machine readable format is always better. But um, once you once you pull that data. Challenge then becomes validating it because you know just because it's been published on a government website or just because you know a sophisticated group of academics have created that dataset. It doesn't mean that it's correct so you know the 1 thing we find um, pretty consistently is that coordinates are wrong. So like. Coordinates are off by a little bit so like you know we'll pull a data set from let's say sweden and you know we'll see that there's supposed to be. You know, 60 different solar projects across you know this 1 part of sweden and then we'll actually go in and we'll run this matching algorithm. That looks at a satellite image and then can see if that satellite image matches what's actually in in the Google maps api and tells you with a certain degree of accuracy or within ah within ah a range how likely it is that that. Ah, location actually has a solar asset there and we can do that for not just solar and wind but we can do that for basically everything we can do it for substations we can do it for transmission towers. We can do it for other types of of more conventional assets like nuclear power plants. Ah, natural gas power plants coal and and high joee stuff that's less. Refractory is is more difficult to identify. But um, 1 of the reasons why in addition to demographics software is becoming kind of more common and adopted the energy sector is just. Because of the trend because software is now available to do this whereas in the past it it wouldn't have been.
| 38:38.80 | Johan | So as ah as a long term I know the product hasn't been out for for a long period of time you worked quite a bit on it. It started off as as a project management tool I Always kind of had the analogy towards Aws who started off kind of as the bookshop of.
| 38:52.44 | Phillip | Um.
| 38:56.00 | Johan | Of the internet and now it's It's transformed to to kind of dominating it. You're gathering all this data into your platform Both the official data that is available but also all the projects that comes into us surely in in a matter of time you will have a gold mine of data in terms of. Deploying renewable energy Across. Do you see other opportunities or is that stage 2 somewhere else.
| 39:20.48 | Phillip | Um, yeah I mean I guess it's it's 1 of the things that's interesting is to see you know what people want in in addition to what's already there. So um, 1 of the big things that keeps coming up is is climate risk. So increasingly you know climate variables impact ah impact the grid so 1 of the things we're looking at doing at the moment in in cooperation with a large insurance insurance company is adding additional climate risk variables into the Map. So that you can see areas of of potential flood and fire risk on top of the other data sets I've mentioned um so that's 1 area that that increasingly seems to be of interest to all the different stakeholders that we that we work with.
| 40:07.72 | Johan | Yeah.
| 40:08.90 | chrissass | So you you described a kind of 1 stop shop is I think the way your your kind of intro was you and make it easy for the developer have everything there? Um, but you know being a software guy myself and and being in the energy industry.
| 40:17.41 | Phillip | Um, no.
| 40:27.21 | chrissass | Ah, 1 of the things that's really important is open apis and using things that allow us to focus on our core competence but yet rely on data and transfer data between platforms and between services very quickly and easily so that there's there's not a lot of.
| 40:40.79 | Phillip | Um, now.
| 40:44.38 | chrissass | Development cycle because you know you have a restful api a restful api and we can send things back and Forth. So are you planning on developing or joining an ecosystem and if so what are the softwares that are most tangential to you. What would be the most logical things for you to touch other than perhaps insurance at which might give you some climate risk and in some of the. Land and and geospatial information you've already described. What are the other tang general softwares.
| 41:10.60 | Phillip | It's a good question. So at the moment we do have an api that allows third parties to access all the data sets that we have we do charge for it. It's not open but we have to cover our costs so that's the reason for that. But if if. People are interested in just accessing the data independently of our platform we can enable them to do that. Um, the second part of your question was what other integrations. Yeah so um.
| 41:31.33 | chrissass | So what with software's tangentials. Yeah.
| 41:37.13 | Phillip | At the moment we have 3 integrations that are about to be released 1 is with Microsoft excel online. another 1 is with smartsheet and another 1 is with Microsoft teams. So at the moment we don't really do anything that those 3 tools do but those 3 tools get used. Pretty frequently in our market obviously for financial modeling and and cash flow management and then also for collaboration when it comes to setting up meetings and having calls so those are the 3 main ones for us smartsheet excel online and and teams the the really exciting thing about. Integration with excel online and and smartsheet is that um this should actually help the the financial modelers a lot and make their lives a lot easier because you can you can basically just push and pull metrics from your from your cloud-based cash flow model into our reporting dashboard. And if you change those metrics at any point they will change on the dashboard. So we're not trying to and there's some software companies out there that are saying they're going to replace excel. We're looking at excel and saying there's not There's never going to be anything more amazing than excel for most people excel does do a lot of a lot of things very well. And in our industry excel is is going to be pretty hard to compete with so we're saying use excel just like you're doing use it in the cloud and ah, you know, push and pull your metrics to this reporting dashboard and then you'll never have to look at powerpoint ever again and if you want to bring someone in. Help you with your financial modeling and you want them to you know, pitch your project. You can totally do that. So the system we didn't we haven't talked about consultants or advisors yet. But this system is also very friendly to to consultants.
| 43:19.20 | Johan | So in terms of yeah, sorry going away a little bit shifting focus away from from from the actual platform and and the things that you developed I did a little bit of pre pre work on on on the show pre research and. 1 thing that we've had on this show before we have a lot of the investment talks and I'm not sure if I'm seeing it right? but I see more and more of the new leaders in energy are now also starting to support invest and looking At. Driving this kind of energy sustainable transformation Also in other areas I read that you're the co-lead of this green investment Forum I Think that's the way I see that is almost like an example of this trend usually the the energy industry was isolated in their own companies. They did everything.
| 43:58.95 | Phillip | Um, you know.
| 44:13.81 | Johan | Within the companies now it feels a little bit like we sharing a little bit more we open up the ecosystems and we're pushing a little bit more to support other companies is that a fair fair analogy or what a part of this change.
| 44:28.57 | Phillip | It is I mean so you're both on linkedin you know we're connected to a lot of people in this industry I always feel like my linkedin channel is know is rose colored glasses I think what's actually happening in the market is that. Projects are continuing to not find investment. There's huge capital commitments. But the the folks that are interested in investing can't find the projects they need to to fit their models and to justify the investment. And so increasingly what we would really love to see happen are institutional investors. You know, climbing up the risk curve and getting involved earlier on and in the project lifecycle and that's something that's a huge challenge. But. If you look at so depending on what forecast you believe you know if it's bloomberg new energy finance or the iea or irena um, or bp you know, depending on what forecasts you believe it looks like um the amount of capital that's expected to be deployed into. Clean infrastructure by 2050 is around forty trillion dollars. Um, that's ah, that's a huge number. But then if you look at the amount of money that we're supposed to deliver into clean infrastructure by 2050 to meet the paris climate accords it's about 1 hundred and 30 trillion dollars. So there's a. A ninety trillion dollar gap. Um in you know what is expected to be delivered in the best case scenario versus what needs to be delivered to stop our planet from imploding. Um, that's a significant gap and I just don't see how you know we're going to be able to. Deliver and less institutional investors get more comfortable with the risk profile of of renewable projects earlier on. Um, so 1 of the things that that we talk about in the green investment forum and 1 of the things that that we talk about with our investors we have investors on our cap table who are. You know ex-g goldman ex-oil traders some of them worked in in infrastructure for for investment banks and 1 of the conversations. We're always having is well. You know what do institutionals need in terms of data points to be able to get more comfortable. You know, taking construction risk or even taking development risk in in projects. Um, and that has to be the topic of conversation on everyone's agenda going forward because if if the capital demand is not met by bankable project deal flow then there's just no point you know if you can't get these projects to adhere to to the due diligence models that ah that institutionals require.
| 47:07.12 | Phillip | They will not attract investment and you know pension Holders. Don't want to see their their ah their pension returns reduced or or derailed because you know suddenly there's a green agenda and that means that you know your pension is yielding 3 or four percent less per quarter than it was when there wasn't a green agenda so you know. These projects have to make money and they need to make money you know they need to fit the the due diligence models of of the key players. An interesting pension fund just for a case study. Um, the Canadian pension plan or cpp.
| 47:32.20 | Johan | But you.
| 47:42.70 | Phillip | Are doing some interesting stuff in this space and listeners might be interested interested in in checking them out. They've got a strategic plan for for climbing the risk curve and and getting involved earlier on and in projects from ah from an equity perspective. And they're doing that through collaboration with with Midcap project development teams.
| 48:04.43 | Johan | Yeah, which was actually a little bit my my my my question around this are we seeing are we in status quo still or do we see development on this. You know we had a guest on previously talking about the c o 2 prices in terms of where everyone stalled quite a bit and suddenly now it's.
| 48:18.65 | Phillip | Um, no.
| 48:23.28 | Johan | Catch up time and it'll be interesting to see then if the financial is the same. You know we because sooner or later. There's a financial gain on this as well. But I guess to to be followed.
| 48:30.00 | Phillip | yeah yeah I mean you know pension funds have gone into more conventional infrastructure in the past and the renewables need to to rise to the challenge they need to adopt standards and and rise to the challenge and I think once they do that then.
| 48:36.70 | Johan | Yeah, which means that sitting on a big race again.
| 48:48.97 | Phillip | Institutional investors will be plowing capital into into development. Hopefully.
| 48:51.66 | chrissass | But you think it's just because it's early in the game I mean you know, granted you have a clock running or the world has a clock running and in you know the the end game is the end gameme. But I mean these things don't tend to happen overnight right? I mean the inertia needs to take place. They need to see successful projects. There's there's a bunch of.
| 49:01.41 | Phillip | Um, now.
| 49:11.63 | chrissass | Things you talked about standards. You know there's there's you know, learning curve. Um, so is it just that it's projected based on what we know today or is is it likely that you know a year or 2 from now and you start seeing some successful projects and taking models that you can cookie cut or roll over it again and again you can start scaling I mean. What's your thought there.
| 49:31.51 | Phillip | So tough right? because the the cookie color model when it comes to renewables is is kind of a myth I mean every project has its own unique dynamics and every project is different. Um and your policy regimes are different.
| 49:44.90 | chrissass | But you can you can quantify the risk though right? I mean you you can quantify different risk whether it's landowner risk whether it's it's risk from the environment whether it's risk from I don't know the local grid. Whatever whatever The the risks are I would think over time.
| 49:50.36 | Phillip | Yeah.
| 50:02.32 | chrissass | You could categorize and qualify each those elements and put them into models that then work that then I can develop an investment strategy based on a model right? And even though I might have 15 variables that change from site to site I would think that there's enough commonality that I could cookie cut in that sense right? Maybe not exactly.
| 50:05.44 | Phillip | Um, for sure. So sure.
| 50:21.92 | chrissass | No 2 sites are the same but the principles ought to be the same right? The fundamentals maybe I don't understand. Okay.
| 50:24.73 | Phillip | For sure. No no, that's that's 1 hundred percent correct. So. That's you know you see that in the us Market. Increasingly you see that in europe to an extent. You know you see very sophisticated project development firms being able to increasingly roll out. Um, projects at scale in a similar range. 1 of my favorite examples is is c 2 energy capital which was which was a project of development in business run by by richard davere and and his co-founders in new york they recently got acquired by by edp renewables. Um, but they they were able to achieve that they were rolling out sort of rooftop solar in a sort of 7 hundred kilowatt to 1 point 2 1 point 3 Megawatt range in cooperation with with you know retailers stadiums sort of large commercial asset owners with big vacant roof space. Um, and through a very diligent and and very hard working team with good backers. They were able to kind of cookie cut and roll projects out I think the the case studies are out there. It's just a matter of people looking in the right place and and seeing what what is possible. Um, and you know the us market is dynamic and and diverse in its own right? Doesn't have a national or integrated grid network so to be able to do that in lots of different states which they did is is pretty impressive and so yeah, you would think that yeah you know sooner rather than later we would see sort of common adherence to a particular model or set of models that. That tends to work. Um, sorry.
| 51:57.21 | chrissass | And so does your day job help that then the the platform that you release from your company sounds like you're you're trying to normalize what can be and and provide the the thought points at least right? you you sounded like you had an outline in the workflow that you would recommend looking at.
| 52:13.41 | Phillip | Um, yeah.
| 52:15.51 | chrissass | So it would seem that as your product matures. So if you're at 1 zero right now or virtual 1 dot zero. Whatever your product number is but it would'd assume that over the next year or 2 that your corpus of data just gets better and better and then just by having your fifty users turn into a Hundred users or fifty users for 1224
| 52:20.97 | Phillip | Um, yeah.
| 52:34.63 | chrissass | 36 months that the the knowledge and experience would would grow rather exponentially.
| 52:38.58 | Phillip | Yeah, um, that's the dream I mean it would be awesome to see you know our tool being used as a best practice tool. The 1 thing that we've been very careful not to do is is try and impose any kind of standardization on on the market because we know the project developers are very proprietary about their process. Um, and that's based on experience and you know we don't want to intrude on that but lazo was saying to Johann earlier. Um, you know the the system is flexible so you can you can start a project from a template and use that template which has a best practice model built into it. Um, you can choose to ignore that template and and create your own model or you can choose to to use that template and tweak it you could tailor it to to your own model. So increasingly we're looking at addressing that through templates at the moment we have a solar pb and a wind template. Um, but we want to segment those into different different levels of project different scales of project. We want to have templates that enable hybrid um models to be built 1 have templates for other project types like storage which is when we're working on in the moment ev charging is another 1 we're looking on looking at at the moment. So um. Yeah, that would that would be the dream. Um, if you know we could say ah to the Market. Um, you know if you're if you're not using any and to do this then you're not doing this the right way that would be great certainly at the moment you know if you're not doing stuff online if you're not using software. Ah, to drive your your process if you're not using data to drive your process then you're going to be inefficient. You're going to be Slow. You're going to be about behind the curve. You're probably going to be spending a lot of money in development that that you might not otherwise be spending might have extra hires that you don't need.
| 54:16.17 | chrissass | But what gives what gives your customers competitive advantage right? So the reason you would keep that proprietary information close to the vest is for whatever your magic formula. You think is gonna be more profitable than than tipping someone else off or maybe my time to Market's going to be quicker or whatever my my logic would be there.
| 54:32.65 | Phillip | Um, yeah.
| 54:36.15 | chrissass | So if everyone starts using a common tool does does that change that a little bit or how do you How do you remain that competitive is it just geography at that point you're you know whoever tied up the land first is has the competitive advantage because you're probably not going to have 2 wind farms in the same spot or you know is it. Whoever gets the market first and and get delivers the energy I mean how is that going to work.
| 54:57.99 | Phillip | I mean so much of of project success is determined by Yield right? So you you have your models and you have your your approach and then you have reality and so increasingly you know those who are are good at. You know, designing projects which are which actually yield or get posted yielding with who were forecasted to yield are the winners and that's increasingly the case in ah in a market where you have increased competition and and falling costs. Um, so you know there are tools that can be used to to help augment that process that are separate from any and. Um, you know, ah feasibility modeling tools like pvys for example, um, can get can get used to help determine you know to produce more more rapid and reliable solar forecasts. Um, so software definitely has a role to play there as well. I know deepmind have been working on trying to predict the wind so they started with with protein folds and now they're looking at trying to predict the wind. You know, using using superpowered ai. Um. So you know that's obviously something that's going to be harder with with climate destabilization. But um, yeah, you know outside of of being really really good at at you know, using data to drive your your yield forecasting and then actually building a project that yields what it's expected to competition is driven by who you know. Um, you know what kind of opportunities you can get access to before anyone else and then you know your skill your adroitness as a developer and being able to you know lead a team towards towards objectives. It's really yeah, very human in that sense and so. Um, you know what software can enable what our software can enable you to do is is to do all of the things you're already good at doing but to do them online which you know saves you a lot of driving around saves you from sending emails sends you from having to make extra phone calls. You know all those all those little time wasting things that you. You know may not even realize you're are taking up half your day are are sort of little jobs to be done that we can eliminate. So ah yeah, going forward. We hope to make great project developers even better and and new project developers get a legup. On Market knowledge faster.
| 57:21.57 | Johan | So we're running out of time as always we we can't stop. It's it's always difficult. We ah probably have a Hundred more questions but we don't have the time unfortunately.
| 57:33.63 | Phillip | Um, next time.
| 57:35.18 | Johan | As a final question. Absolutely next time but as a final question I've been thinking about this since you opened the show being ah living in Scotland now is next pat the ambitious goals of scotland to 2030 of being full renewable where are they.
| 57:51.82 | Phillip | Ah, they've they've met it. They've met that goal then they did it last year yeah Yeah, yeah, they say Scotland's competitive advantages are the 3 w is wind water and whiskey.
| 57:53.35 | Johan | Are they reaching it Aco already all right? fantastic.
| 57:58.38 | chrissass | Pause.
| 58:05.53 | Johan | Ah, love it. Ah, great to have you on philip. Fantastic.
| 58:11.30 | chrissass | Yeah, yeah, it's been great to have you on the show I you know just my my final thoughts would be so so you you went from the excitement of you know, project building these projects or taking on these projects to building a company.
| 58:12.74 | Phillip | It's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me on guys.
| 58:27.93 | chrissass | The job description. You talked about in the beginning sounded a lot like the jobs description of a Ceo pretty much a little bit Macgyver along the way. Um, how do you like the change do are you enjoying what you're doing right now has it been fun to get to the point you're at.
| 58:32.79 | Phillip | Um, yeah.
| 58:43.60 | Phillip | Definitely It's been a ton of fun technology startups are incredibly hard and so it hasn't been without extreme challenges. But um, the 1 thing I love the most I guess about this job is working with software engineers. Um, my previous job I worked a lot with civil engineers. You know, hard hatts people who go on site and and actually build stuff in the built environment but working with software engineers is a totally different thing. Um and what we try and do at at any end is bridge those 2 cultures. So um, you know. We need software engineers to understand what civil engineers do we need civil engineers to understand what software engineers do so that's that's a lot of fun and I get to tell a lot of stories. So I've got a lot of stories from my project development days that after a couple of beers are pretty funny. So um, we try and we try and communicate. Through to through stories and through experiences and you know try and try and give engineers on both sides insight into what the other world experiences on a daily basis. Best thing I love most.
| 59:41.38 | chrissass | Well cool. Well I'm I'm glad you shared a bit of your story with us today. It's it's been fun. The journey hearing about that the company you've built a little bit about where the industry's at I'm not convinced that I got the answer to my opening thought is you know. Are we going to get the critical mass we need and and are there enough tools. so so I certainly heard you describe tools that would make things more efficient, incrementally improving the process but I don't know how we get that Ninety trillion dollar gap filled yet. You know i. I wait to see the breakthrough in technology that helps through that it is exciting to to hear about some of the tangent software and the amount of data available and people leveraging the data to do creative things that that's always an exciting time. So. Thank you so much for being our guest today.
| 01:00:29.91 | Phillip | It's been a pleasure guys. Look forward to the next time and thanks a lot.
| 01:00:31.75 | chrissass | Thank you and once again to our audience you spend another hour listening to insider guide to energy. We hope you've enjoyed the show if you've yet to subscribe please subscribe if you have friends that want to hear the show. Please recommend the show and don't miss our newest podcasts stories. Our second edition should be out by the time you hear this show so we hope you enjoy that podcast as well. Thank you so much.