Newcastle startup SwitchDin launches trial to help consumers maximise solar investment

CHANGE AGENT: Dr Andrew Mears, founder of SwitchDin and co-founder of Eighteen04, at the CSIRO's energy centre. Picture: Penelope Green

CHANGE AGENT: Dr Andrew Mears, founder of SwitchDin and co-founder of Eighteen04, at the CSIRO's energy centre. Picture: Penelope Green

CLEAN technologies and smart city startup Eighteen04 has outgrown its digs at CSIRO and is poised to secure a multi-level office space in Newcastle West.

Co-founded by Dr Andrew Mears, chief executive of clean tech startup SwitchDin, and James Giblin, head of Australian Energy Consultants, Eighteen04 moved into CSIRO’s energy centre at Mayfield six months ago.

Already at capacity, Dr Mears said it will set up a second office with more than 100 desks for collaborators.

“We’ve got a lot of interest from tech startups locally and globally who are searching for this type of facility,” says Dr Mears, a Novocastrian with an advanced control and renewables background that took him abroad at length in advisory roles for the United Nations and World Bank.

“Eighteen04’s differentiator is that it is the only tech startup with a focus on scaleable startups, so not established businesses or lifestyle businesses.”

Dr Mears said Newcastle had the ingredients to transform into a startup city like Boulder or Pittsburgh but a cultural shift was needed.

Eighteen04 is trying to fill the gap by creating an ecosystem that entices nimble tech startups, and promoting their collaboration with the corporate world. 

Dr Mears founded SwitchDin in 2014 after returning to Newcastle after two decades largely spent in developing countries, using solar energy and battery solutions to improve populations’ access to reliable electricity and promote development.

“Back here I found that we had the technology and the grid but not the innovative service business models that could further empower the consumer,” he says. 

As the federal government moves to wind back subsidies to household solar users, Dr Mears says major players like Tesla are exploring cheaper battery storage solutions for homes and small businesses in Australia.

Specialising in software for solar and batteries, SwitchDin is looking for consumers or companies considering using batteries to take part in a development trial for its cloud-based platform.  

 SwitchDin technologies monitor energy usage and analyse forecasts of weather, market and demand to get the full picture of how the solar and battery system is working in order to maximise return on investment with data-proven systems. 

“By year’s end, most homes on the government’s feed-in [solar] subsidy will go from getting 66 cents a kilowatt hour to almost nothing for their energy excess,” said Dr Mears. “The onus will be on consumers to maximise their energy self-consumption, which batteries can enable.”

Details on the SwitchDin trial is at www.switchd.in.

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