Investors could profit from Aussie Solar start-up

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An Australian tech start-up hopes to make solar power a more attractive option for property investors by allowing them to sell solar energy to their tenants.
 
According to Victorian based start-up Matter, the majority of the approximately 2.4 million rental properties in Australia are not fitted with solar power systems as the cost is too prohibitive for landlords. 
 
But Matter hopes they can reduce that cost barrier through their system, Digital Solar, which they claim will help the back pockets of both landlords and tenants.
 
Digital Solar consists of a small box fitted between the solar system and the electrical system of a dwelling, which measures the power generated by the solar system and consumed by the house.
 
Both landlord and tenant are provided with a separate logon to a Digital Solar’s online platform, which provides them with real-time usage statistics, usage forecasts and a monthly invoice.
 
“We’ve been in and around the energy industry for around seven years now and we got to the point where we wanted to do something that would really make a difference,” Matter co-founder Simon Barnes said.
 
“One of the things we realised is that around one third of homes in Australia don’t have access to solar power because they’re rentals and it’s too expensive for landlords to install, so we looked at that and thought that was a problem we can solve,” Barnes said.


A landlord uses Digital Solar to monitor energy usage. Picture: Supplied

While Matter’s hopes are to encourage more widespread use of sustainable energy, they’re using a different promotional path than is usually used to spread the solar message.

“When people usually talk about solar power, they’re talking about saving money, but for landlords we’re trying to get across that this is a way to make money as they actually sell the electricity to the tenant,” Barnes said.

“The idea is the tenant and the landlord agree to use the Digital Solar system. Then they use our website calculator to come up with an agreed cost for each kilowatt hour and go from there.”

Barnes said Matter recommends landlords offer up a discount of around 20% to tenants compared to their usual electricity bills to make it an attractive option, and even with that discount in place landlords can expect to see the system deliver a return on investment in around three to six years.

Barnes believes the presence of a Digital Solar system will make properties a more attractive rental proposition and also add to the sale value of a property.

Barnes said Digital Solar is set to be made available to the general public in the next fortnight after a successful trial process.

“For the last two months we’ve been working with some of the bigger real estate agencies and property management companies to see how they would receive it and the reactions have been very positive.

“We’ve used technology that’s been tried and tested by utility companies and we’ve repurposed it for the investor market.

“The system has built in alerts for tenants and landlords and both have their own logons so they can see what’s happening and have peace of mind that the system is working.

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