Sunpower Renewables Pty. Ltd., an Australian renewable energy solutions company, has developed modern, efficient, and smart solar energy products that allow customers to achieve energy independence while being cost-effective, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. Their ‘Australian Made’ products, which are marketed and sold under their SR Portables brand come with cutting-edge technology and are designed for industrial, commercial, residential, and off-grid applications to empower every consumer to generate, store and use solar energy anytime, anywhere. Their renewable energy generation and storage devices, ranging from hand-held to grid-connected products, allow users to generate and store energy (from the grid, solar or external generators) and then intelligently release it to appliances based on user-programmed preferences (e.g. in response to time-of-day pricing of electricity) to reduce the total electricity costs for the user.
Sunpower Renewables is a global leader in energy storage products. The genesis of this idea came from the fact that there wasn’t enough development around sustainable energy storage products. Solar energy can be harnessed but it has its limitations mainly due to the shortage of sunlight hours. That makes it, important to have a good energy storage system in place to store solar energy during daylight hours and use it during peak consumptions hours in the evenings and night. With this vision, the company first delve- oped a solar lantern and home power station for the rural market. The home power station also had a PAYG system payable through mobile sim cards. However, this product line had its own limitations as collecting money from this segment turned out to be incredibly difficult. The team learned the hard way that to cater to a wider market, they need to keep pushing themselves to innovate and develop better products and thus developed an organization centered around R&D and product innovation. This led to the expansion of Sunpower Renewables’ horizon in terms of product usage and applications, and the creation of a range of multifunctional products.
Sunpower Renewables has been recognized as one of the most Innovative companies in The Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies. The company has also won the 2021 Governor of Victoria Export Award for Sustainability and The Finder 2021 Innovation award for the Most Innovative Social Impact Solution.
Since its inception in 2016, the company has come a long and exciting way. “It all began with a simple solar lantern and then shifted to lithium-ion batteries, thus disrupting the solar energy sector for a cleaner & greener future. We soon realized that to succeed in this industry, we need to keep innovating and the better we innovate, the better we can provide solutions for a wider application thus capturing every viable opportunity in the industry “says Rahul Kale, Founder & CEO of Sunpower Renewables. The company fosters a culture of innovation and R&D driven focus. They have taken the path of continuous innovation along with promoting creative thinking and providing energy-saving solutions. This sets them apart from others and builds a strong response to the different demands in the market.
As a company, Sunpower Renewables are innovation-focused and continuously go through few levels and layers of research. They take several customer feedbacks on where they are facing an issue, the solution to which evolves from a problem statement that the company creates. It includes the biggest pain point of the customer and how SPR can solve that by taking care of the clean energy part. Once the pain point is discovered, then as a next step they see what solutions are available or what needs to be developed to reach that solution. SPR develops a solution which is not just technically superior but also commercially cheaper so that it results in cost saving for the customer.
That’s their biggest competitive advantage and gives them the edge over other players in the market. Another factor is cost-efficiency. Most people compare a lead-acid battery to a lithium-ion battery. So, a 1 KW lead-acid and a 1 KW lithium-ion battery are not the same and when you take a cost comparison of that the companies are far cheaper than the current alternatives. Sunpower Renewables’ products come with a longer life with higher output efficiency and negligible maintenance or installation costs.
Sunpower Renewables focussed on R&D at a time when smart technology has been evolving which allowed them to take all the components in a traditional solar plant, small/large/medium/micro-sized, and turn them portable with a very slick design, which consumers can use and move at any point anywhere. Also, using good quality lithium-ion batteries has been the key differentiator for their product, which enables and promotes energy independence. The batteries themselves have a lifespan of 10 years or more, with an efficiency of more than 90 percent. Their innovations are integrated well with the other components of a solar plant and their proprietary heat management system allows for the units to be portable.
To build a strong team, Sunpower Renewables emphasizes on team culture and innovative thinking. A creative leadership team proves to be the ultimate driving force of an organization’s success and contributes relentlessly to the fulfillment of the organization’s endeavors. The company is fortunate to have an amazing team of innovators who realize that with innovation, there is no place for complacency. Therefore, they have set up an environment with due systems and processes that support innovation, creativity, and R&D.
Customers today need more versatility and independence in their power generation. The team at Sunpower Renewables analyze customer needs to offer a wide and exclusive range of energy storage products. Their products include handheld units of smaller capacities as well as larger units that can be used for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Although, the application of the product varies as per the size and capacity of the unit the product versatility allows the same unit to be used in multiple scenarios. For example, the unit which is used to power an oxygen concentrator can even power your home and appliances like TV, fridge, etc. A unit’s Size and capacity depend on how much load you can put on the unit. The smaller units can also be used for commercial and industrial purposes depending on what it is trying to power. They have a whole range of handheld products and appliances that can be used in the house or across different locations.
One of the most innovative case studies is of MIRRAT (Melbourne International RoRO & Automotive Terminal) MIRRAT port came to Sunpower Renewables with a unique problem. Electric vehicles arriving on ships to the port with their batteries drained couldn’t be offloaded. Sunpower Renewables provided them with their ‘Titan’ solution, along with the in-house developed portable EV charger, to boost charge the EVs on the ship and then drive them down to the charging station. Also, MIRRAT have Sunpower Renewables ‘Minotaur’ solution, installed on their utility vehicles, to charge their utility tools on the go enabling the maintenance team to complete their tasks without having to return to the port and sit idle while the batteries are being charged. This has resulted in efficiency gains with a payback of fewer than 3 months from a reduction in the time and resources wastage. The second one is of Thriveni, India which operates the largest coal mine in India. Sunpower Renewables is collaborating with Thriveni to design solutions based on their portable energy generation and storage products to replace the numerous diesel generators that are being used at the mines for lighting, security, office and residential buildings, utility equipment, maintenance tools, and remote monitoring equipment. These solutions are a game-changer for the mining industry which is heavily dependent on diesel as their primary source of energy.
Sunpower Renewables has been recognized as one of the most Innovative companies in The Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies.
In terms of geographical expansion, Sunpower Renewables is looking to focus on three core areas. Strategically looking at international expansion across North America and Europe across both B2B and B2C channels the company aims to reach both domestic customers and large-scale operating businesses. They are also distributing products via online platforms so that it reaches a larger consumer base. Additionally, they are prioritizing expansion plans in India and other South Asian countries to increase their deeper penetration in the existing markets. They are also focusing on expanding through acquisition, which can increase presence in regions like Africa and Europe.
As part of their continuous product development, Sunpower Renewables is developing some exciting new products this year. One is the Thor unit, which is a powerful handheld unit which will have extendable batteries for longer backup time. This particular unit can also be managed through a mobile application and can be used to charge EVs on the go. for last mile connectivity to remove range anxiety.