Harnessing that energy can help our country move towards net zero carbon emissions as well as saving energy users money.
But while there are many government incentives, through rebate and interest-free loan programs government incentives widely available, many consumers are deterred by the complexity.
Faye Griffiths, utilities managing director for Growth Markets at Accenture, says, “Consumer buying motivations have shifted through the pandemic and our research shows that more than 50% of customers now look beyond price and quality and focus on what matters most to them in life. Democratisation and decentralisation of energy continues to grow in popularity with communities and individuals wanting to play a direct role with decarbonisation and energy efficiency with solar panels and other distributed energy resources. Home solar is now seen as the easiest way for people to not only address our climate change threat, but also insulate themselves from price and supply volatility.”
For consumers, getting quotes for the installation of solar panels can take weeks and often require installers to undertake site visits, and there are bureaucratic processes. Energy retailers also feel the effects of these complex processes. Understanding the customer’s needs, matching a solar installation that achieves their energy saving goals within their budget and then designing a solution requires a significant amount of data and intelligence.
Accenture and Google Cloud have teamed up to develop a solution that can be used by energy retailers to streamline this process, making it easier for consumers and enabling energy companies to improve service delivery.
The solution is built on Google Cloud, which has been carbon neutral since 2007 and is on target to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2030, leverages a broad cross-section of Google tools and technologies. Natalie Piucco, Google Cloud Technologist, explains.
“The technology behind the solution is built on Google Cloud. We take terabytes of geospatial data like roof size, the pitch the shape, sunshine and feed that data into Google's analytics engine. We have used Vertex AI and TensorFlow to train the model, which predicts the suitability of your roof for solar and how much power you'll generate, how much money you will save, and the carbon offset you’ll achieve.”
“The partnership brought together the perfect trifecta of clever minds: Origin's experience as an energy provider, Accenture's deep industry knowledge and Google's expertise in cloud and AI,” adds Natalie.
This wasn’t simply a minimum viable product that met basic technical needs. The product that was developed in this short time is what the team called a Minimum Loveable Product that is consumer ready. All the consumer needs to do is enter their address. The software accesses the required data, processes it using Google’s AI and machine learning tools, and delivers the consumer an accurate quote in minutes.
Previously, the process could take days or weeks, require a site visit and potentially not give the customer an accurate estimate of the system cost, the potential savings or the reduction in carbon emissions their new solar panel system will provide.
As well as delivering benefits to consumers, this enables energy companies to achieve significant efficiency gains and deliver a superior customer experience. By using automation, they can give customers the information they need faster than ever before.
Looking ahead, Accenture and Google Cloud intend to advance the system by creating recommendation tools that help consumers take advantage of the benefits new solar systems can offer.
“Aside from looking for ways to continue to improve the customer experience or removing complexity and helping customers with solutions that will help them to decarbonise their homes and manage costs, we see demand increasing beyond solar battery and virtual power plant solutions. We really need to help customers with solutions that will help to flatten the demand and manage costs for customers in the years to come,” Faye says.
By combining Accenture’s energy market experience with Google’s tools and technology know-how, it’s now possible for Australian consumers to make better and faster decisions about the right solar power solution for their homes. This will save them money and reduce their carbon footprint.