5 Minutes With: Luceo Energy CEO Patrick Matweew

Luceo Energy CEO Patrick Matweew
Luceo Energy CEO Patrick Matweew

We catch up with Luceo Energy CEO Patrick Matweew, who explains why he’s so passionate about renewables and creating a greener future for all.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Well, I would consider myself a global solar industry veteran. I started in the industry back in 2005 when the very basic fundamentals were laid and when many of the now top companies were still start-ups in a novel, nascent industry. As part of my journey, I have worked for several different companies in a variety of functions, both in my home country Germany and surrounding Europe. I have also spent a few years in China and Southeast Asia, and supported businesses in the US. I moved to Australia in late 2017 and have been CEO of Redback Technologies since October 2018. 

I am very passionate about environmental protection because of my personal experience growing up in one of West Germany’s biggest brown coal mining and industrial regions in the Cologne area. In the ’80s the air was heavily polluted, especially in winter, the beautiful river Rhine was an ecological wasteland and the forest was dying because of sulphuric acid in the rain. Then in 1986 Chernobyl blew up and really had an impact on me as a 10-year-old boy. That, and Fukushima, made me believe that neither fossil fuels nor nuclear are good solutions.

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How did Luceo Energy come to be?

Luceo Energy lauched in October 2020. It is a very new brand of the Redback Group. At Redback, from the very beginning we were more than a hardware company for battery systems. Actually, from the very beginning it was about connectivity, data and platforms and there has always been a huge amount of industry knowledge within the company from its first days. Our CTO, our director of engineering and the whole engineering team have a lot of passion for building great IoT solutions.

On the back of that experience the company started to work on a data platform for energy data and the corresponding analytics in 2017/18. The project not only produced a very strong proof of concept, but we were also extremely lucky to have received strong local support in Brisbane for such a solution. We were awarded with a grant from Advance Queensland and were able to win Energy Queensland, the University of Queensland, Springfield Land Corporation and Microsoft as partners for further development. The whole journey led to a large-scale trial with Energy Queensland and the roll-out of a few thousand, specifically designed meters, communication devices and the corresponding platform and analytic solution in 2019 and 2020.

After that was complete, we realised we had a commercial product that was a powerful tool for network operators in Australia and in international markets. Since the solution and the customer segment was very different from our traditional Redback customer set, we decided to give the new solution its own brand and space—ultimately becoming Luceo Energy.

Talk us through Luceo’s large-scale pilot project with a Energy Queensland:

This trial really was the nucleus from which Luceo Energy was born. As mentioned before, the collaboration with Energy Queensland started much earlier and ultimately led to this trial in which 20,000 households in Queensland were equipped with the Luceo Energy network device for data acquisition. (It is important to note that the devices were installed on the network side of the meter and not on the consumer side.) These Luceo devices, made up of a meter and a communication solution, were installed at various locations along the Queensland coast from the NSW border all the way to Port Douglas in the north. The devices send a signal every minute to the Luceo platform that displays the information on the map-based user interface.

But that is only the beginning—the stream of incoming, live data is analysed and will detect safety relevant instances at the connection point and will alert the network operators immediately, enabling fast and highly accurate response to mitigate any threats to the safety of customers and public. In this form, the solution is a great example of innovation made in Australia to the benefit of consumers.

What kind of challenges are faced by start-ups in the Australian energy industry?

I think the key challenge for a tech company in a very specific domain is to get recognised and given the opportunity to showcase and test an innovation with a commercial partner. The energy sector, for good reason, is very risk averse and so we are extremely grateful that we were able to convince Energy Queensland to trust in us and our capabilities and work with us.

Once a start-up has been able to convince the first customer or partner, and has done a good job in delivering a working solution, things get easier. We are now able to demonstrate our working solution to interested potential customers and that really is making a huge difference for our business development. 

Getting into the Energy Industry as an Australian start-up is hard, I think the local start-up ecosystem is often underestimated and undervalued by large corporate buyers. This is really unfortunate, and a missed opportunity as specialised local support is key, especially in the dynamic transformation period that we are in now. I hope that success stories like Luceo Energy can make a difference and put a spotlight on the fantastic innovation that is made here in Australia. I wish that there was greater support for “buy local” in this area. We are creating jobs that are future proof.

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In light of the recent IPCC report, do you think Australia is doing enough in terms of energy transition? What would you like to see change?

I think no developed nation is doing enough on climate change. This includes policy makers, industry, and the population. I see discussions every day where positions are taken that say that today’s economy jobs are more important than ppm of COin the atmosphere. I disagree and I think everyone, especially in Europe, the US and Canada and us here in Australia, need to get behind the fact that we have the largest per capita CO2 footprints, and our lifestyle and wealth was built on the back of a fossil fuel-fired economy. 

We must accept accountability and make the first step. Pointing to other nations, whoever they are, is not helpful in building a global movement. Let us be the change we want to see in the world (thanks to Gandhi for the wise words) and get started. Others will follow if we take the lead and Australia has the natural resources to make a swift transition to 100 per cent renewable energy. So, it is comparably easy for us, and it will create new, sustainable jobs and economic growth. If Australia is not taking the lead, then we miss a massive opportunity for innovation and wealth creation. 

I think it is flat out untrue to say that the transition to 100 per cent renewables will kill jobs and make the nation poorer. The continuous subsidies to keep a dying industrial complex alive that pollutes our air, wastes our water resources, and destroys our natural habitats is misallocating taxpayer money. That money needs to be spent on innovation and education to get us ready for a smart, clean energy future and make Australia the technology leader in the world. Long story short: Yes, there is a lot more we can do, we should do, and we must do. And we need to start doing it now.  

To learn more about Luceo Energy, click here.

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