Trilliant, one of the most buzzed about names in the emerging Smart Grid space, has firmed up its toehold in Europe, announcing a new contract with British Gas, one of the most formidable utilities in the world. The power company, now owned by Centrica, will be deploying Trilliant’s software, called UnitySuite, to allow its smart electrical and gas meters communicate seamlessly with the utility, home energy displays, appliances like thermostats, and any other energy management devices that might be rolled out soon.
Trilliant, which plans to rollout its software to British Gas’s systems in December, has had European expansion in mind for a while now, with its strategy pivoting around its ability to gain traction in Britain. The deal with British Gas is an important step in that direction for the Redwood City, Calif., company, which says it will look toward to continent if all goes well.
“This is proof that we’re on track,” says Eric Miller, senior vice president solutions at Trilliant. “Right now we have two things going on in Europe: proving out our wireless mesh technology, seeing how that works, and then seeing how we can establish our credentials in Europe where there are some of the most complex and demanding visions for these systems.”He wouldn’t say where in Europe the company would plan to go next.
Miller says Trilliant faced several challenges unique to Europe in realizing its European plans. The biggest one, perhaps, is that most European utilities, including those in Britain, take meter readings much more sporadically than companies in the U.S. Sometimes meter readers only check in with utility customers on a quarterly or even annual basis. With the introduction of smart meters, utilities will be going from a trickle of very basic data to a deluge of real-time energy consumption figures. Miller says Trilliant’s software is designed to help utilities handle this new amount of data, and to slice and splice it to make it digestible and usable.
In the U.S., the company appears to be growing at a steady pace, with plenty of bandwidth to spare even with new European operations opening up. At the end of September, it struck a partnership with grid automation giant ABB to make the two companies’ technology interoperable. A month before that, it teamed up with IBM to hasten smart metering installations and beef up grid security. And just last week, it launched a product called SecureMeash that it jointly developed with Cooper Power Systems to speed up data transmission from electric and gas meters to in-building devices.
Trilliant could benefit greatly from today’s announcement of stimulus funding for utility Smart Grid deployments. It’s one of the companies that will probably reap the benefits no matter how that money is divided — the software will be in demand regardless. Even without the boost from the government, the company has done quite well when it comes to venture capital, having raised $40 million last August from MissionPoint Capital Partners and Zouk Ventures.
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