Digital Energy: Helping Energy-Intensive Companies Do More with Less

Digital Energy: Helping Energy-Intensive Companies Do More with Less 

When Irish Canadian founder Morgan Eldred established Digital Energy in the UAE in 2016, he had a vision. Having experienced first-hand how energy-intensive companies were wasting energy across their value chain, he dropped a lucrative job to launch Digital Energy and help organisations manage their energy consumption in smarter ways, minimising waste and maximising value.

What made you realise that there was a need for a company like Digital Energy?

Having mostly worked in the oil industry, but also for research company Gartner where I was leading the hydrocarbon energy business, I saw the lack of transparency, fragmented control, and lots of waste.

Historically, in many energy-intensive companies – oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, airports, etc. – energy optimisation has never been a priority. Nobody was focusing on the use of digital technology to improve energy optimisation or efficiency. So, there was a massive opportunity.

What solution are you proposing to this energy waste?

We focus on what we call “Track, Trace, Optimise.” Track data – measuring, recording, and verifying data to ensure we get quality sets; trace – using analytics to perform benchmark analysis and tie together activities against energy factors or emission factors; and optimise energy supply and demand using our artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Odin is our full platform for visualisation and AI-engine calculation.

This all combines with ‘environomics’ to tie our clients’ commercial strategies with the sustainability practices they need to implement. Many organisations are struggling to identify the right sustainability plans that will not increase their costs and harm their business. They need a unification of the parameters. Using our analytics and our AI, we are able to find the precise balance that works for them.

This is why our solutions are bespoke; there’s a consultancy aspect to our work. For example, we’ve just developed a solution with one of our clients in Europe for the world’s first circular steel solution. Our platform tells them how to optimise steel production for the lowest emissions, lowest cost, or shortest time, analysing hundreds of parameters – including transportation, capacity, subcontractors, etc. – and basically spitting out a full execution plan in just 0.17 seconds.

You’re suggesting a different, more holistic way of looking at energy use. How do your clients receive this new approach?

This is a big platform and the fact that, for full-scale optimisation and transformation, it can take up to two years is scary to some clients.

So, we take them on the journey, explaining that  they need to get the right data, measure the right things, have the right analytical framework in place to do the right calculations. And the energy savings they will make from the beginning can fund the whole transformation programme, while the environmental impact will add value straight away.

Who are your typical clients?

We work with any business that’s energy intensive, meaning there’s movement of people and/or of materials on a large scale.

Our customers today include DP World; Sumitomo Corporation, a provider of metals; Petroleum Development Oman; Dragon Oil, which is the upstream arm of ENOC, and others...

What is your business model?

We have an ecosystem of partners – technology partners, knowledge partners, and implementation partners – that bring us customers.

Then, we have two revenue streams: first, we take organisations on the journey and build the customised AI; then, we charge licensing fees for the solution that we provide.

How would you describe your growth trajectory?

We started with one person and we’re now about 24, so our growth path has been pretty big and it’s all organic – there has been no external funding.

When we talk about energy optimisation and sustainability, there’s massive potential ahead and we are well positioned. As an organisation, we’re very good at futurism, identifying important macro trends and planning for them with our customers; we’re also very good at having the capability to deliver upon that vision; and, because we are startup, we are very flexible and adaptable in our approach.

Now, the challenge is that, sometimes, we are five years ahead of the market.

What are the next steps for the company?

On the business side, we’re looking to move further into enabling circular organisations beyond energy and emissions to include other types of waste.

On the tech side, we’re working on very interesting concepts around infused AI with some universities, where AI models would talk to each other in tune, with humans in the loop.

On the expansion side, Europe is our next step. And we are looking for our first external investment to help fuel that.

You had never launched a company before. What made you take that leap of faith?

It was an inner urge. There was something inside me telling me that I needed to do this, that this was not going to be a quick journey, so better get started now or I would never get started. I have never woken up in the morning not feeling enthusiastic about what I’m doing, even if it’s really not easy.

It’s like being dropped from a helicopter in a jungle: you’re on your own and you have to survive. And that is something no MBA can teach you.

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