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Aotearoa New Zealand’s future energy centre, Ara Ake, has welcomed the strong international interest in its Electricity Distribution Business (EDB) Decarbonisation Challenge, with five of the six finalists being from offshore.

In September, Ara Ake, alongside US-based partner Elemental Excelerator, put out a call to energy innovators to present pilot-ready technologies that could assist EDBs with their decarbonisation challenges.

“We put the call out for entries that could help in specific areas,” says Ara Ake Chief Executive, Dr Cristiano Marantes.

One of the challenges that New Zealand EDBs face is investing, managing, and operating their networks to support New Zealand towards its sustainability goals, while continuing to deliver a fit-for-purpose, safe, secure, and, very importantly, equitable electricity distribution service.

“We’re looking for solutions that will support EDBs to optimise visibility, management and forecasting of peak demand and network constraints,” says Dr Marantes.

EDBs are also seeking pilot-ready technologies that can expedite the distributed energy resources (DER) connection process, to support the growth in solar installations.

“The Challenge reflects a big part of what Ara Ake is all about, meaningful collaboration and partnering for success, to solve the big decarbonisation challenges and benefit the environment and the world,” says Dr Marantes.

In total, 36 entries were received from several countries, including Chile, the United States, Japan, South Africa, and many European countries. This has now been narrowed down to six finalists, agreed upon by the EDB participants.

“The New Zealand Decarbonisation Challenge has been very exciting for us. It presents a great opportunity for us to work more closely with our partner, Ara Ake, and provide them access to many global innovators,” says Elemental Excelerator Head of Corporate Partnerships, Saritha Peruri.

“I’ve been really pleased to see a high calibre of entries come through,” says Ms Peruri.

The winner(s) will receive up to USD$250,000 in funding to pilot their technology with New Zealand’s participating electricity distribution businesses, with the goal of scaling it and commercialising it in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The six finalists are:

  • ANSA – New Zealand
  • Future Grid – Australia
  • Gridsight Pty Ltd – Australia
  • Plexigrid – Spain
  • Redback Technologies – Australia
  • Shifted Energy – USA

Participating EDBs include Aurora Energy, Counties Energy, Orion Group, Powerco, The Lines Company, Unison, Waipa Networks, and Wellington Electricity Lines Limited.

The winner(s) will be announced at the live pitch event on 17 November in New Plymouth.


About the finalists


ANSA, based in Canterbury, New Zealand, ANSA provides modelling and insights for the network connection of electric vehicles, solar power, and other low carbon technologies. It allows electricity distributors to understand the electrical models and data quality of LV networks by interpreting GIS data into topology and conductor/transformer parameters. Using this, models network PV and EV charger hosting capacity, including where and when congestion may occur, and advice on maximising network capacity, such that network capacity may be fully utilised. Provides tabular output, graphical output, congestion maps for every LV network, and heatmaps showing hosting capacity across an entire electricity distributor’s network.

ANSA was founded by Allan Miller and Scott Lemon to meet the growing demand of companies for useful, accurate information about network integration of solar PV and electric vehicles.


Future Grid

Australian-based company Future Grid provides power quality software to help enable the renewable energy transition. The reliability and stability of distribution networks are increasingly under threat due to the uptake of distributed energy resources such as electric vehicles and rooftop solar.

Specifically, the low-voltage (LV) part of the distribution network is being impacted and is traditionally unmonitored and invisible to electricity distributors in New Zealand. Therefore, electricity distributors require visibility of the low voltage network to manage the energy transition while minimising investment costs and minimising the impacts of energy equality as a result of this investment.

Future Grid's solution is its Compass™ software, using data from smart meters, IoT and increasing DER inverters to create real-time power quality visibility to understand the behaviour and impacts of DER on the low-voltage (LV) distribution grid. 

Using the outcomes generated from Compass™, electricity distributors can then take action to improve power quality on their network either automatically or manually, for example, through tapping down a transformer or fending a field crew to fix a network fault.



Gridsight is passionate about decarbonisation through widespread electrification and recognises distribution utilities as key enablers of this change. Gridsight was founded to empower these organisations with the data analytics capabilities they need to navigate the unprecedented load, volatility, and distributed generation on their networks. Our software platform enables network engineers to gain visibility of their LV networks, make targeted investments, and harness distributed flexibility.



This Spanish company specialises in network and energy management systems. Technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps are increasing their penetration in electricity grids. All of this is occurring on low voltage grids, which traditionally have not been the focus area of distribution system operators (DSOs). This is creating problems that require DSOs to transform from being a mere one-way distributor of electricity to becoming a real-time manager of the energy being produced, consumed, and managed within their networks.

Plexigrid’s solution provides DSOs with the same powers that transmission system operators (TSOs) have:

  • Full visibility of what is happening in the network, integrating all information from all sensors, inventories and GIS.
  • Complete analysis and understanding of what is happening in the networks, improving both operations and planning thanks to a powerful digital twin.
  • Manage existing network flexibility to solve network problems with software instead of hardware.


Redback Technologies

This Australian business provides low-Voltage real-time monitoring and analytics solutions. The Luceo LV-Monitoring and Analytics solution is made up of low-cost 4G monitoring devices and an analytics platform that can help electricity distributors to assess the capacity constraints on their networks. Its solution involves installing low voltage monitoring equipment at several locations along each feeder and providing data in real-time back to a cloud-hosted software platform. The platform analytics then allow assessment of feeder health and hosting capacity, and can predict which feeders will run into voltage constraints.


Shifted Energy

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Shifted Energy specialises in distributed energy resources (DER) aggregation and optimisation software. Their mission is to develop world-class software and controllers to convert electric water heaters into valuable demand response assets, empowering electricity users and enabling utilities to stabilise their grids while accelerating the integration of renewable energy.

Increasing renewable energy penetration and electrification have created supply- and demand-side volatility. Shifted Energy solves these challenges through a distributed energy aggregation software platform, asset specific control strategies, and smart controls. They enable grid edge assets to provide a range of grid services, helping utilities to reduce costs and address load constraints at a local level. This enables customers to save money, and both utilities and retailers can build stronger relationships with their customers.

Shifted Energy’s technology solution comes in the form of their cloud-based software platform Grid Maestro®, which converts any water heater, pool pump, EV charger, or other behind-the-meter device with a controller or API integration into an intelligent, grid interactive asset capable of providing demand response, energy storage, and ancillary services to utilities. Their machine learning algorithms create device-specific consumption models that allow for accurate consumption forecasts and available load shift capability without inconvenience to consumers.