Service is central to own-use energy production
Ranked 5th in France and first in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in respect of 2019* growth, Monabee is a clear leader when it comes to installing own-use solutions. To ramp up business in the very promising residential own-use market, the company is banking on service levels and on investment in digital solutions.
We talk to marketing manager Jean-Denis Gitton.
Founded in 2012 by solar energy experts Vianney Fichet and Clara Trevisiol, Monabee started off by commercializing connected equipment for measuring energy production and consumption. When France’s “2017 Act” came along to give a legal framework to and secure residential own-use electricity production, it opened up prospects the start-up was quick to seize on. In 2019, Monabee launched its offering of solar equipment and installation for private own-use, earning the QualiPV RGE accreditation label.
What’s your differentiation plan for this coveted own-use market, with many new entrants—energy suppliers, panel manufacturers, and others—all trying to carve a place?
It’s true we’re in a very high-growth market. As things stand, there are 65,000 homes in France with grid-connected own-use installations. According to Engie, this number could rise to 300–500,000 by 2024. In the energy market, like others before it, uberization is in full sway. Consumers can now choose their supplier while seeking a much greater involvement in their own energy, taking control of it, and managing it according to their own needs. These expectations are all the more legitimate given the rising price of energy (more than 50% up in 10 years) and the importance of consumption management. That’s why all energy stakeholders are trying to position themselves in this market and expand their offering and why they are revisiting their business models.
Our difference in this market will be seen above all on the service front.
It’s to this end that we’ve developed a global offering covering everything from handling of administrative procedures to installation of production and monitoring equipment, coupled with simple to use, high-performance services for managing production and tailoring it to one’s intended use.
One example is the “Solar Savings Account”, which helps make the most of any kWh potential that cannot be immediately consumed. This virtual storage can be recovered in the evening to charge an electric car thanks to electricity produced during the day, or for remotely starting a swimming pool pump. All our developments are designed first and foremost to address current and future uses of energy in the home. Our philosophy is to simplify the energy involvement of our customers and help relieve stress on the grid by making optimum use of the energy capacity.
Do you come up against any special difficulties when installing your own-use solutions?
The main difficulty, one where unfortunately we don’t have much leverage, lies in managing the procedures, especially administrative. These are not standardized and can lead to wild swings in lead times. Therefore the entities concerned really need a good shake-up to simplify matters and enable a big speed-up in processing applications.
On our side, we have worked hard to optimize how the installers fit our monitoring equipment. The intelligence module we install for production and consumption monitoring is miniaturized and clips straight onto the connected meters, taking only a quarter of the normal time. The installer then configures the system using the Monabee app. These improvements make installation so much easier. We strive to offer our distributor and installer partners Plug & Play solutions and to provide sales and technical media that are communicative and accessible. That’s also part of the service mindset.
How do you see Monabee developing in its market over the next few years?
The key issue is digitalization of the services own-use provides. We must continue investing in tools to make our equipment more and more smart, without forgetting the software side—applications like the bi-directional charging system we are developing for electric vehicles. We are also considering how to integrate data into our systems to further optimize the control and the kWh produced.
As far as external factors go, it would be great if there were stronger incentives to install own-use systems, especially financial ones. We’re talking here about energy delivery taxes, for example, that are at odds with own-use consumption.
Germany in particular has been strong in supporting individuals who want to equip. Today there are over a million households capturing and converting solar energy, so there’s plenty of room for progression in France..
One of Monabee's last installations in Cabannes (13).
It is a self-consumption installation with a power of 6kWp, equipped with Systovi photovoltaic panels, with subscription to the virtual storage service "Solar Savings Account".
* Magazine Les Echos