Telstra sees potential in energy tech

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Telstra sees potential in energy tech

Clean tech exec Ben Burge to oversee new division.

Telstra is creating a new division that will focus on energy efficiency and renewable technologies, both internally at the telco and for the wider market.

The initiative will focus on improving energy efficiency at the telecommunications giant, as well as potential collaborations with other companies on new energy-related initiatives.

The project will be overseen by Ben Burge, the chief executive of renewable energy retailer Powershop, who will join the telecommunications giant in the coming weeks.

Powershop is a subsidiary of former state-owned power company Meridian Energy, which generates around 33 percent of New Zealand’s electricity through its Waitaki River and the Manapouri hydroelectric schemes.

The creation of the green power initiative was announced by Telstra international and new businesses group executive Cynthia Whelan in a blog post.

“As part of being a world class technology company empowering people to connect, we are looking at the opportunities to help customers monitor and manage many different aspects of the home, including energy,” Whelan said.

“Energy related devices, such as smart meters, smart light bulbs and connected white goods, are helping drive compound annual growth for connected home devices of more than 25 percent over this period.”

The appointment comes just weeks after Telstra installed large capacity AC 30kW grid connect solar systems, which are expected to produce around 40,000 kWh of energy each, at its Deer Park and Lyndhurst exchange buildings in Melbourne.

While Telstra has a long history of using solar panels at exchanges, in the past they were mainly used at remote and rural locations where connections to the electricity grid were unavailable.

Internally, Telstra aims to reduce its carbon intensity (per terabyte of data used) by 55 percent by the 2017 financial year, using financial year 2014 as a baseline.

Telstra is not the first major Australian telco to make a significant move into the energy market, with gas and electricity retail a major focus for M2 long before its merger with Vocus late last year.

Likewise, NBN director Simon Hackett has invested in a number of clean energy-related initiatives, including battery storage developer RedFlow, after selling Internode to iiNet for $105 million in 2011.

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