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SparkMeter — Impact Brief

Introduction

SparkMeter’s simple plug-and-play grid management services, equipment, and software enable microgrids and distribution utilities operating in hard-to-reach places to improve their operations, help them achieve financial sustainability, and deliver reliable electricity for end-users, particularly those living under PPP$5.

SparkMeter addresses common utility pain points by offering internationally compliant meters and integrated communications and software to automate payment processes, prioritize maintenance, and monitor system performance. The smart metering system leverages real-time data to prioritize and plan field visits, identify and resolve customer and technical issues, and reduce outages by limiting consumption to specific groups during times of high demand or low supply (due to a voltage drop or transformer under-loading, for example). The team leverages this data to create models of distribution network assets in simulation, alongside metrics on power quality, customer credits and debt, electricity rate, and load limit. From the models developed by digitizing network assets, utilities can target interventions to precise locations on the grid with confidence that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Use of GIF Funds

GIF’s funding allowed SparkMeter to establish a full suite of certified meters able to scale to both microgrids and central grid utilities. The newly developed Advantage Meter Suite meets the highly-specific certification standards in the biggest and toughest microgrid markets, like Nigeria (NEMSA), Uganda (UNBS), the Philippines (ERC), and India (BIS). The new meter suite offers prevention through remote shutdown and improved tamper detection with remote notification functionality. The financing focus was on technology and R&D, business development, and sales – including trials in Nigeria.

Impact to Date

To date, the company has sold meters across 25 countries. Its customers range from local solar installers and developers to venture-backed mini-grid developers such as Husk Power and Powerhive, and the mini-grid arm of global energy giant Engie.

The company successfully closed successive funding rounds for a total of $16 million, attracting several sophisticated energy investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Clean Energy Venture Fund, as well as energy-focused impact funds such as the Schmidt Family Foundation. The latest $12 million, raised in August 2020, are used to grow SparkMeter’s share of metering for the fast-growing off-grid energy market. The company also launched digital solutions, a suite of services that translates grid data into decisive actions that support every role within business operations for electricity distribution utilities in emerging markets.