Solar in Australia: French giant Schneider bankrolls Clipsal Solar disrupter

The $60 billion French giant Schneider Electric is bankrolling a new energy technology company called Clipsal Solar, which expects to hit the Australian market in March as an independent adviser to households on how to cut energy bills and make the right decisions on storage batteries.

The Australian venture is using the trusted Clipsal brand, which has a history stretching back to 1920 as a provider of light switches, power points and more sophisticated smart home electrical products as a springboard into the market. Schneider bought the Clipsal business in 2003 for $750 million.

Almost 2 million homes have solar panels installed in Australia and there is increasing take-up of home storage batteries, which reflects the fast-changing energy landscape.

Clipsal Solar chief executive Preeti Bajaj said the new venture was conducting pilot testing in both South Australia and NSW and was preparing to enter the market in March or April next year.

The business had been funded by a new Schneider venture capital arm aimed at disrupting from within. The Schneider global venture capital fund had up to $800 million at its disposal, but Ms Bajaj declined to say how much was being fed into the Clipsal Solar venture. Schneider operates in 100 countries.

She said it had been built by first asking customers what they needed at a confusing time for many as the energy sector transformed, rather than a group of experts inside a company coming up with the ideas and foisting them on the market.

"If there is no customer pain, there is no customer desirability," she said.

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