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The Next Revolution – Wireless Smart Off-Grid Technology

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Manage and Control Power Systems Anywhere, Anytime

In Sophic Capital’s Powering the Most Challenging Systems report, we learned that:

  • Off-grid power has the potential to reach 1.8 billion people across both developed and developing nations;
  • Globally, in 2018, 4.16GW of renewable energy powered off-grid projects;
  • Diesel generators have typically powered most of the world’s off-grid solutions, providing opportunities for renewable energy solutions, and;
  • Off-grid solar was a US$1.75 billion market in 2019, and off-grid storage systems could be worth US$58.5 billion by 2026.

In this report, we introduce Sophic Capital client Clear Blue Technologies Inc. [TSXV:CBLU, OTC:CBUTF], a provider of clean, wireless power, off-grid solutions.

Clear Blue Technologies – Wireless Off-Grid Power Generation and Management

Clear Blue Technologies Inc. delivers clean, managed, “wireless power” to meet the global need for reliable, low-cost, off-grid power for lighting, telecommunications, security, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and other critical systems – anywhere and anytime. The Company’s vision is to provide Smart Off-Grid Power that supports mission-critical infrastructure across government, industrial, and commercial markets. Clear Blue provides complete off-grid power solutions with increased power reliability through their integrated Ongoing Remote Power Management Service. Powered by clean energy, mission critical devices can be installed anywhere while being remotely monitored, managed, and controlled over the Internet via Clear Blue’s solutions.

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Clear Blue’s business model is built upon delivering maximum uptime, longest system life, and systems that are easy to install and maintain; all through remote management and control which makes the solution appealing to enterprise customers Clear Blue designed its solutions for 100% lights-out remote management with a key focus on delivering the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for its customers – lower than any alternative including alternative solar solutions. The Company achieves this attractive TCO through its Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) business model, where Clear Blue manages and operates power systems for off-grid infrastructure on an ongoing basis. Clear Blue provides customers with long-term assurance of reliable power, while ensuring that Clear Blue receives recurring revenue over time, generating growing recurring revenue and boosting customer lifetime value. Using its patented Smart Off-Grid technology, Clear Blue manages a diverse portfolio including lighting, telecom, Internet of Things devices, and other critical systems around the world.

Clear Blue’s Smart Off-Grid patented technology includes the entire network and cloud software – fully plug-and-play with no software to install and no network to set up. Already deployed in over 37 countries, Clear Blue’s Smart Off-Grid system includes the power electronics, a solar or solar-hybrid controller, complete with  built-in communications, and the Illumience cloud-based management platform. Clear Blue’s products deliver maximum uptime and longest battery life for their customers with the lowest upfront CapEx solution on the market. By using historical data to better managing energy generation, energy storage and power output from these systems, Clear Blue can achieve more economical designs; for example, an optimized Clear Blue system could be operable with fewer solar panels and batteries than competitors’ systems – leading to direct cost savings.

Clear Blue Illumience provides the ongoing management service, ensuring reliable power is delivered to client systems while providing connectivity to monitor and manage these systems remotely. Clear Blue’s Smart Off-Grid Controllers are easily integrated into solar, and wind powered telecom towers, streetlights, security systems, mobile power, electronic charging stations and more. The Company’s patented technology uses predictive analytics to ensure a seamless and reliable connection to off-grid power. 

Beyond powering connectivity solutions via telco cell phone towers and satellite Wi-Fi, Clear Blue also powers smart-city solutions. Clear Blue Technologies’ Illumient Smart Off-Grid lighting solutions deliver the lowest cost of ownership and highest performance in the industry. Illumient has proven its value in areas where infrastructure is damaged, unavailable, or cost-prohibitive. Every Illumient light comes with built-in wireless connectivity which automatically sends real time information to Illumience. Through Illumience, users can set up and change lighting profiles and control all other aspects of the system in addition to constant monitoring.

Making Clear Blue’s Smarts Smarter

With 6.4 million operating days of site production and 10 billion transactions processed between production power sites and a cloud management platform, Clear Blue has the most extensive data collection and production system in the world for wireless power. Because every system is sold with the Illumience ongoing remote power management service, the constant data acquired enables Clear Blue to build even smarter and higher performing products and services. And as Clear Blue’s solutions get smarter, the Company’s customers benefit from the shared aggregate data since Clear Blue operates from the cloud. This knowledge and expertise are what gives Clear Blue its market leadership position.

Real-time analytics is a game-changer. The ability to automate and digitize day-to-day operations enables Clear Blue to leverage the data collected to create a competitive advantage. With the installation of IoT sensors at customer wireless off-grid sites and the implementation of various patented algorithms, Clear Blue generates superior business insights from the data. Then, using predictive analytics, Clear Blue can make efficient and effective business decisions for their clients and share the learnings across all deployments. For example, with a large collection of data from various installations, it’s possible for systems to take into account local battery life, cabling losses, solar panel angle, dust, shading from that particular installation – which provides more relevant and actionable parameters than from a laboratory environment, leading to more efficient operations, and therefore cost savings.

Clear Blue Drives Next Generation Off-Grid Power Management

Traditional off-grid power systems require people on-site to maintain and sometimes even operate the equipment. These off-grid sites are predominantly powered with gas or diesel generators and are often complex; for example, containing multiple manual relays and switches which require people to travel to the site for management and maintenance. With the development of Clear Blue’s smart off-grid controllers and systems, remote systems are shifting from analog solutions to digital (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1: Smart Off-Grid in Telecom – Moving from Analog to Digital

Management of Smart Off-Grid sites can be done electronically and remotely via Clear Blue’s cloud system. Clear Blue’s electronics (the right-hand side of Exhibit 1) eliminates the manual switches and breakers of traditional analog systems (the left-hand side of Exhibit 1), as is the generator. There is no need for constant refueling and no need for anyone to be there for the system to work. Even installation in most cases, is as straightforward as simply connecting a few colour coded wires. With its Smart Off-Grid Power Pack for Telecom (as shown in Exhibit 1), Clear Blue provides superior energy forecasting and management (Exhibit 2). Using predictive analytics in a shift towards artificial intelligence, the Company provides energy forecasting and management with best in industry troubleshooting and remediation tools to allowing them to deliver for the customer. With enough advanced notice and predictive information of an upcoming problem, a simple example would be to reduce a solar powered cellular radio’s output signal during idle times. Thus, energy reductions can be achieved without impacting service to the customer (like turning the lights out when no one is in the room).

Exhibit 2: Illumience Off-Grid Cloud Solutions – Taking Weather into Account to Deliver Reliable Power

Another driver of off-grid systems is telecommunication operator (telco) network upgrades. As the world transitions to 5G networks, IoT connections will more than double to 25 billion from 2019 to 2025. In 2020 alone, the world added 250,000 new telecom towers, and each new telecom tower requires a new power system. To deliver that increase in bandwidth and provide the quality of service the public expects requires more towers, often closer together. Therefore, as a telco transitions an area with 2G towers to 3G, more towers will need to be installed likely to accommodate increased subscriber data consumption due to new network capabilities. Then, as the telco evolves it’s 3G network to 4G and then 4G to 5G, more tower sites will likely be needed.

Many telcos are upgrading their networks, and telecom power systems alone were a US$4.4 billion market in 2020 and forecasted to grow to US$5.3 billion by 2026. In Sophic Capital’s Powering the Most Challenging Systems report, we detailed the evolution of wireless carrier networks from 1G to 5G. Many carriers are now pushing customers from legacy networks like 2G and 3G to more modern 4G and 5G networks (AT&T, for example). These upgrades present a large and consistent growth opportunity to upgrade power and management systems at off-grid locations – a chance to replace costly analog systems with digital counterparts.

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