By Justin Bull
April 17, 2014
Pulse Energy, a Vancouver-based energy intelligence firm, has announced a major new deal with British Gas, one of the largest utilities in the U.K. The two companies will partner to deliver Pulse’s energy monitoring software to British Gas's 600,000 commercial clients, including businesses such as restaurants, office buildings and hospitals.
The deal represents a major step forward for Pulse Energy, a clean-tech darling in Vancouver that has benefited from both provincial and federal support. By the end of 2015, 150,000 customers of British Gas Business – the business-to-business arm of British Gas – will receive customized information about their energy use and tips on how to reduce costs. In the long term, British Gas intends to use the Pulse platform with all of its commercial clients, representing almost a million facilities across the U.K.
Pulse Energy delivers relatively small savings – a few percentage points at most – but at the scale of a utility, this represents massive cost and electricity savings. By using an existing energy intelligence platform, British Gas will be able to leverage previously deployed smart meters to provide deeper and more meaningful insights to its clients.
By gathering data on tens of thousands of facilities across the world, Pulse Energy is able to tap a massive data set to better understand how businesses can save energy. Small actions, such as adjusting the temperature of a commercial freezer in a restaurant, can yield big savings for business owners. Facilities serviced by British Gas will start receiving monthly updates that provide much more information than simply amounts owed.
The announcement comes at a time when energy efficiency is gaining traction in the clean tech marketplace. Although efficiency can sound rather dull – especially when compared to innovative solutions such as solar panels, wind farms and electric vehicles – saving energy is actually cheaper than any power source. Saving a kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy costs between 2 and 4 cents. A kWh of wind energy costs between 4 and 10 cents; solar costs between 9 and 11 cents, and carbon-captured coal costs between 11 and 16 cents. In a sense, efficiency is the cheapest source of new energy.
Recent reports from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy have cemented efficiency’s prominence in the clean tech landscape. In adjusting to a post-Fukushima reality, Japan has shuttered its nuclear facilities. As its electric grid evolved, the biggest driver of change has been efficiency savings. Given the size of Japan’s economy and the high cost of importing liquid natural gas and other energy sources, it would be no surprise to see Pulse Energy’s CEO and founder David Helliwell brushing up on his Japanese.