Smart Energy Finances: AMI provider acquires a narrowband communications solution

Smart Energy Finances: AMI provider acquires a narrowband communications solution
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This week’s Smart Energy Finances looks at the announcement of an acquisition of a New Zealand-based communication solutions developer by an AMI and IoT provider. The acquisition will create a new entity and communications platform for utilities to improve the performance of critical infrastructure.

Also on the radar are announcements of a ‘resilient’ business model based on smart meter-generated revenue for Smart Metering Systems (SMS), growth financing for a smart meter data analysis provider and a €3 billion ($3.9 billion) scheme for cleantech companies in Germany.

AMI provider Ubiik acquires Mimomax Wireless

Taiwan-based Ubiik, an IoT and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) provider, has acquired New Zealand-based Mimomax Wireless, a provider of communication solutions for narrowband channels.

The acquisition is being touted as an acceleration of Ubiik’s market expansion.

The new combined entity, which has not yet been named, aims to bring new wireless solutions to market, providing communications for utilities and critical infrastructure.

According to the Taiwanese provider, their current business is on track to exceed 1 million AMI device deployments by 2024, citing the “coverage limitations of existing public LTE networks that impede utilities’ AMI deployments” as the prime challenge they seek a solution towards, the company stated in a joint press release announcing the acquisition.

Since 2007, Mimomax Wireless established itself as a manufacturer of radios utilising Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology.

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The Kiwi company caters to utilities, stakeholders within the energy sectors and governments among others. Their communications solutions, states Mimomax, optimises data throughput and enables near-real-time visibility of critical assets.

Commenting on the announcement was Tienhaw Peng, founder and CEO of Ubiik, who stated how the acquisition “injects additional momentum into our collective growth. In tandem, we’re poised to boost the performance, security and cost-effectiveness of critical networks.”

Ubiik states how the merger will allow for an array of new solutions for mission and business-critical communications. For example, existing US utility customers who have deployed Mimomax products in the narrowband 700MHz Upper Block A can now leverage their spectrum acquisition by adding Ubiik’s goRAN NB-IoT Band 103 as a retrofit.

This opportunity, adds the AMI provider, offers the ability to connect smart meters and IoT devices for “a fraction of the cost of deploying new pLTE infrastructure”.

SMS’s ‘resilient’ smart metering business model

Glasgow-based smart meter and carbon reduction asset developer Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has, within its H1 2023 trading update and outlook report, reported 13.3% revenue growth.

Specifically, the Scottish clean tech company’s Index-linked Annualised Recurring Revenue (ILARR), a referral to revenue generated from meter rental and data contracts, grew from £97.1 million ($125.4 million) at the close of December 2022 to £110 million ($142 million) as of June 30, 2023.

The company’s CEO, Tim Mortlock, commented on the growth, citing the ‘resilience’ of their model:

“We have delivered another strong operational and financial performance during H1 2023, a testament to the resilient nature of our business model which is underpinned by our index-linked recurring revenues.

“Our existing pipeline of meter and grid-scale battery assets is expected to more than double the Group’s EBITDA in c.4 years compared to FY 2022, with significant additional growth opportunities in existing and developing CaRe assets.”

Within the first half of 2023, the company SMS installed 220,000 smart meters and has maintained market share of 14%.

According to the report, their engineering capacity delivered higher volumes of activity, largely driven by transactional callout services alongside a higher proportion of single fuel installations.

The Group also increased its engineering capacity and expects meter installation run-rate to accelerate as a result.

When it comes to financing, the Group claims its current pipeline of smart meters and grid-scale batteries can be fully funded from asset-backed, internally-generated cash flows and debt facilities.

The Group is also considering asset recycling to maintain a “prudent level of gearing in the medium term and to support future growth”, they state in the release.

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Expansion financing for a smart meter data analysis provider

CIBC Innovation Banking has increased its growth financing commitment to Bidgely, a provider of AI-powered energy intelligence solutions for energy providers worldwide.

The additional financing commitment of $18 million – 2020 saw Bidgely secure $8 million from the same company – will strengthen Bidgely’s ability to support critical utility initiatives, namely within the EV and grid modernisation markets.

Bidgely’s UtilityAI analyses smart meter data to provide appliance-level insights into daily energy consumption, giving utilities insights into energy usage patterns and anticipated grid loads.

Bidgely touts its platform’s ability to coordinate accurate grid planning and load forecasting, together with the ability to better manage the influx of EVs on the grid through optimised time of use, load shifting and managed charging.

“Utilities around the world rely on Bidgely’s artificial intelligence-powered energy solution to guide their clients to smart energy decisions,” said Amy Olah, managing director of CIBC Innovation Banking. “Our continued support speaks to Bidgely’s success and our commitment to back innovative software companies across North America throughout their growth journey.”

€3bn for German low-carbon tech – batteries, heat pumps and more

The European Commission has approved a €3 billion ($3.9bn) German scheme under the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework to support private investments in low-carbon assets for the country’s transition to net zero.

The scheme, touted as in line with the tenets of the proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan, will take the form of direct grants, tax advantages, subsidised interest rates and guarantees on new loans for companies producing low-carbon technologies.

Said companies will include those with business in battery energy storage, heat pumps, electrolysers, wind turbines, solar panel, CCUS and key components needed to produce such tech or related critical raw materials necessary for their production.

The aid will be meted out by 31 December 2025.

For the latest finance and investment news coming out of the energy sector, make sure to follow Smart Energy Finances Weekly.

Yusuf Latief
Content Producer
Smart Energy International

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