Australian solar startup Power Ledger believes that blockchain technology can spur the energy industry to greater efficiency, reducing both distributor waste and consumer costs.
Power Ledger was co-founded by Dr. Jemma Green, a research fellow at Curtin University in Western Australia. Prior to founding Power Ledger, Dr. Green worked as an investment banker at JP Morgan’s London branch, during which time she also received two postgraduate degrees from Cambridge University in sustainability. Dr. Green was also recently elected acting deputy lord mayor of Perth, Western Australia.
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Dr. Green spoke with CCN about the challenges of disrupting the energy industry with blockchain technology, as well as what it was like to launch Australia’s first ICO.
CCN: Dr. Green, you have a fascinating résumé, to say the least. What led you to leave the investment banking industry and begin developing blockchain-based solutions for sustainable energy?
Dr. Jemma Green: Halfway through my time at JP Morgan I looked around the office and saw there were no recycling facilities. I looked into it and found that 500,000 pounds a year could be saved from introducing them so I pitched this idea to the COO in Europe and he said okay. Three months later we rolled out recycling bins and I was really excited until I saw people were just dumping their recycling in their desk bins. So I created a phase two called ‘Bin The Bin’ and I became the most hated person in the office.
Something twigged in my mind at that point and I found renewables far more interesting than my day job so I decided to pursue studying sustainability.
CCN: What role will blockchain platforms such as Power Ledger play in the future of the energy industry?
JG: Blockchain platforms will help facilitate our distributed energy future with a better return on investment for solar panels and batteries. It also enables a low-cost, low-carbon and resilient local energy system that puts the customer first.
Customers will have more control over their functionalities and also more understanding of their energy profiles.
CCN: What are the biggest obstacles Power Ledger and other energy startups face when trying to decentralize the energy industry?
JG: There are a lot of regulations around the energy industry, so that’s certainly an obstacle. The toughest part is finding a way to work within the rules while also disrupting the industry – it’s a balancing act but one we’ve managed through partnerships.
In saying that, there are limited incentives in incontestable markets for a market incumbent to innovate on a platform like Power Ledger.
There’s also a huge education process that has to happen so consumers understand their options when it comes to energy.
CCN: You had an immensely successful ICO/TGE, particularly given that you were the first Australian startup to hold one. What was most challenging about this experience?
JG: It was very heavy on our resources. We were simultaneously juggling the running of the business while also spending 12 hours a day on the ICO. Being a startup, everyone was (and still is) wearing multiple hats so we’re constantly managing how to best spend our time, while ensuring we don’t diverge too far from our long-term goals.
It’s also tough because you don’t want to outsource anything. So I’d be on our Telegram chat until 1am and up at the break of dawn running the business. It was essential we as Directors were involved in the community throughout the entire ICO process, while also bringing in new clients and running the company.
CCN: In retrospect, is there any aspect of your ICO/TGE that you wish you had handled differently or advice that you would give other startups looking to launch token sales?
JG: Through all the craziness we sometimes got caught up being reactive rather than proactive with our official responses. For example, we’d be in the trenches (AKA our telegram chat!) talking with each person rather than being strategic and utilising our company voice and reach.
We also had team members spread across the globe, which was great for reach but brought its own set of challenges. I’d advise other ICOs to prioritise staying connected internally, both in location and discipline.
In hindsight, these were easy things to change but the reality is we couldn’t have fathomed a better outcome than what we ended up with.
Featured image from Shutterstock.