AI offers brighter future for loss-making utilities

Smart meters from Village Energy can reset energy business models.

SHORTLIST (Technology Innovation Challenge)

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Almost half the world’s population live without reliable access to power. In Asia and the Pacific, meanwhile, energy demand has more than doubled since 2000.

Many public utilities – usually subsidized and unprofitable – struggle to address these pressing concerns. 

At the same time, they have to manage distributed energy sources across expanding grids, and get the energy mix right.

In response, Australian start-up Village Energy has developed a network of smart meters for cash-strapped electricity providers.

Utilities can plug this low-cost platform into their existing grids. AI and machine learning help make these grids more robust and cheaper to run. 

A more dependable and affordable power supply also nudges up energy use and economic growth. This provides more revenue and more money for reinvestment. 

Village Energy’s solution can also lift up demand for renewables, integrating alternative sources such as solar while using AI to optimize the energy mix.

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

The network itself is controlled by a series of algorithms that manage energy flows in real time. This helps stabilize the grid and rein in costs.

Village Energy’s platform, which keeps tabs on electricity use within households, also gives end-consumers more control over consumption and spending through a mobile app.

Results from a pilot project in India’s Andhra Pradesh have been encouraging. Both energy consumption and renewable penetration rose, at a cheaper rate for households and the local utility.

All bills were paid too, with 100% collection efficiency.

At the same time, peak demand was shifted and fell. Grid outages became far rarer.

Now Village Energy is extending its footprint. The startup has inked further agreements in India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam and is eyeing possible partnerships in Australia.

Village Energy was shortlisted in the ‘Artificial intelligence for energy demand management’ category for the ADB’s Energy Sector Technology Innovation Challenge

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Ben Hamilton

Co-Founder & CEO, Village Energy

Wayne Liubinskas

Co-Founder, Village Energy

Yvonne Power

Co-Founder & COO, Village Energy

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