Smart Energy Finances: SMS points to smart metering and storage portfolios for profit gains

Smart Energy Finances: SMS points to smart metering and storage portfolios for profit gains
Image courtesy 123rf

Smart Energy Systems (SMS plc) has announced its year-end financial results for 2022; the smart metering Group achieved 92% profit before tax, attributing smart metering and storage portfolios for profit gains.

Also on this week’s finance radar are Accenture’s acquisition of Flutura, an India-based AI company, ABB’s investment in a direct current microgrid startup and Trane Technologies’ Series B investment into a company’s liquid cooling solution, aiming to bolster water cooling efficiencies for data centres.

SMS: smart metering and storage portfolios for profit gains

Scottish-based smart metering company SMS last week declared financial results for the year ended 31 December 2022.

According to the company’s statutory performance measures, announced last week in their annual results, SMS saw a 92% increase in profit before tax.

Specifically, their profit before tax at the end of 2022 was £16 million ($19.6 million), up from £8.3 million ($10.2 million) the year before.

The company, which installs and manages smart meters, energy data, grid-scale battery storage and other carbon reduction (CaRe) assets, has stated its smart metering and grid-scale battery portfolios as prime areas of growth.

Tim Mortlock announces annual results and strong performance. Courtesy SMS.

Say Tim Mortlock, SMS chief executive officer: “The strong momentum in our meter and grid-scale batteries businesses provides us with confidence in our 2023 and longer term outlook – we will continue to deliver on our sustainable promises.”

Specifically, SMS stated confidence in their medium-term outlook, an expected progressive improvement in 2023’s smart meter installations and a hopeful pipeline expansion into other CaRe assets.

Over the course of 2022, SMS increased its smart metering portfolio by approximately 480,000 installations; up from 1.7 million in 2021 to 2.2 million in 2022.

Revenue generated from meter rental and data contracts, including those from 3rd party-managed meters, was up 13% at £97.1 million ($114 million) from £85.9 million ($105.2 million) in 2021.

From a strategic standpoint, the Group made investments in EV software company Clenergy EV and n3rgy Data, which provides digital services and data analysis – in the hopes of accelerating their capabilities in Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and energy data management.

They have stated commitment to developing a commercial asset base for behind-the-meter tech, such as solar and storage, domestic EV chargers and air sourced heat pumps, seeing long term market opportunities for each.

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ABB invests in a DC microgrid startup

Automation company ABB is entering a strategic partnership with Direct Energy Partners (DEP), a start-up using digital technology to accelerate adoption of Direct Current (DC) microgrids.

The partnership involves a minority investment in Direct Energy Partners through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV).

Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

DEP focuses on local energy generation and distribution with scalable DC microgrids that aim to increase customer’s operational autonomy while reducing overall energy and operating costs.

The systems are touted by the startup as 10% more efficient than the industry standard and have a 30% lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

DEP’s DCIDE software platform streamlines the design and implementation of low-voltage DC microgrids. The digital development environment is aimed at enabling users to work solutions by matching designs automatically with real-world products available in its digital marketplace.

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Image courtesy ABB.

Megawatt-scale, low-voltage DC energy networks will play a key role in the energy transformation.

EVs, solar generation, wind farms, battery storage, hydrogen fuel cells, LED lighting, computing and consumer electronics all either generate or consume power as DC.

Distributing energy around factories, large buildings and sites using a DC microgrid will minimise the number of power conversion steps to provide higher energy efficiency, increased operational reliability and lower total cost of ownership.

Accenture acquires Flutura

IT company Accenture has agreed to acquire industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) company Flutura, headquartered in Bangalore, India, to strengthen their industrial AI services for clients in energy, chemicals, metals, mining and pharma. Terms of this deal were not disclosed.

Flutura specialises in industrial data science services for manufacturers and other asset-intensive companies.

Its AI platform provides self-service solutions for advanced analytics, aiming to support process, asset management and reliability engineering teams to assess, predict and improve energy efficiency outcomes of production and manufacturing facilities.

Industrial engineers and data scientists can also quickly develop digital models of industrial assets on Flutura’s AI platform, which processes data from disparate IT and operations technology systems.

According to Senthil Ramani, senior managing director and Accenture Applied Intelligence lead for growth markets, the acquisition will enable their client companies – particularly in Australia, South-East Asia, Japan, Africa, India, Latin America and the Middle East – to “reduce emissions, energy consumption and lost output due to unplanned downtime of industrial assets.”

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Companies need strong AI capabilities to build a digital core and become more successful, according to research Accenture presented at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos. Another Accenture study found that most companies are not very AI-mature and have barely scratched the surface of the technology’s potential.

Last year, Accenture acquired data science company ALBERT in Japan. Other recent AI acquisitions include Analytics8 in Australia; Sentelis in France; Bridgei2i and Byte Prophecy in India; Pragsis Bidoop in Spain; Mudano in the UK; and Clarity Insights, End-to-End Analytics and Core Compete in the US.

R&D investment for data centre cooling

LiquidStack, which provides liquid immersion cooling for data centres, has received an investment from Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator.

Trane Technologies, through its strategic brand Trane, develops sustainable Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and is, according to LiquidStack, one of the data centre industry’s most prominent suppliers of mission-critical infrastructure.

The investment aims to support adoption of LiquidStack’s solutions and significantly reduce data center carbon footprint, water consumption, e-waste and environmental impact.

Two-phase immersion cooling drastically reduces data centre direct and indirect carbon footprint to the tune of over 1,500 tonnes per MW versus air cooling.

This translates into 40% reduction in mechanical equipment energy use vs. air cooling, 33% lower CAPEX, 32% lower TCO and up to 69% compaction of data centre white space.

Broader adoption of LiquidStack’s technology can also reduce water usage for powering and cooling data centres by over 300 billion liters per year.

LiquidStack will primarily use the new funding to ramp up manufacturing, including the opening of a facility in the US.

In addition to increasing manufacturing scale, the new facility will include research and development labs, factory acceptance testing and a service training centre to support the demand and adoption of LiquidStack’s immersion cooling technology in hyperscale, cloud, colocation and edge computing applications.

For this and more finance and investment announcements coming from the energy sector, make sure to follow our column, Smart Energy Finances Weekly.

Yusuf Latief,
Content Producer, Smart Energy International

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