On the back of the increased uptake of battery storage installations nationwide, Byron Bay-based energy storage solution retailer Smart Energy is planning an ambitious expansion project with a goal to more than double its Australian footprint within the next two years.
To be predominantly located in regional and rural areas, new Smart Energy stores will be rolled out under the company’s ‘dealership model’ whereby locals can operate their own business under the parent’s brand and with the support of the main office.
The roll-out will take Smart Energy from 14 Australian offices to 29, but co-founder Elliot Hayes told Business News Australia his ultimate ambition is to have 100 locations nationwide, in addition to the company’s Portsmouth-based UK office and its US headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Hayes, who founded the company in 2016 alongside Beau Savage, said the expansion’s timing coincides with the ongoing cost of living crisis which is driving up power bills and pushing Australians to consider solutions like battery storage.
“It’s come at the right time because of the energy situation in Australia with power prices, and our technology is tried and tested,” said Hayes, who won the 2021 Australian Young Entrepreneur Award in the Specialist Services category with Savage.
“We’ve got to the point where what we’ve actually created is a platform for people to install solar with our software and technology.
“A couple of years ago…we expanded over into the US and UK and we thought, instead of going overseas more, let’s look internally. It works really well here and people are very receptive to it and welcome the change of solar.”
Core to the expansion project is the company’s mission to bring its solutions to those outside major metropolitan hubs who traditionally have less access to the tech Smart Energy provides.
“In opening these 50 new locations we want to have people who are of the area being able to open these retail access areas so they can service customers,” Smart Energy head of storage and dealerships Joel Power said.
“We’re specifically looking at those regional and rural areas because what we’ve noticed is those areas are majorly underserviced when it comes to being able to access renewable energy.
“They’re also the area where they have the highest power prices and high power prices lead to the uptake of renewable energy, but a lot of those areas just can’t access it.”
Hayes added that the new locations would ‘hopefully look a bit like an Apple store’, and would give customers access to a one-stop-shop for solar, batteries, electric vehicle chargers, smart appliances, heat pumps and more.
“It’s like an energy shop of the future,” said Hayes, who was also named one of Australia’s Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in 2022 alongside Savage.
“It’s nice and shiny. You can walk in and all you need to do is pull out one of your bills and we show you exactly how you could save.”
The energy crisis, though rough for Australians, has been a boon for Smart Energy as people turn to energy storage solutions to help ease the burden of expensive electricity bills, leading to record sales and installation numbers.
“Over the last two months, we’ve hit record numbers of installations, and we’ve been consistently breaking those records monthly,” Hayes said.
“This month, May, it looks like we’re going to be breaking another installation record for solar and for batteries.
“For context, two years ago we were probably installing five batteries in a year, but last year it was about 600 and this year we’ll double that. In the last fortnight, we’ve installed almost 100.”
Power attributed this uptake of battery storage by Australians to a delayed effect of millions of solar panels being installed on roofs nationwide. Those who have solar now also see the benefit in capturing and storing the energy produced by their panels.
“There are over 3.5 million solar systems installed in the country. Most of those people got those solar systems without a battery,” Power said.
“Solar and the way that people use it and the way it interacts with the energy market has really changed, so it’s pushing a lot of those people who bought a system to get a battery as the last piece of the puzzle.”
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support