Interview: Gary Meyers and Christos Georgopoulos on Power Factors’ Recent Acquisition of Inaccess
Power Factors acquired Inaccess in June 2022. We talk to Gary Meyers, CEO of Power Factors, and Christos Georgopoulos, Chief, Controls and Grid Integration at Power Factors and former CEO and co-founder of Inaccess, to find out more.
How did Power Factors and Inaccess decide to join forces?
Gary Meyers, CEO of Power Factors: Our relationship with Inaccess goes back many years. We have partnered to solve problems for our mutual customers, such as fixing challenges of reading data from each other’s tools. That helped us build a personal relationship, and we also had some preliminary discussions about coming together over the years. More recently, our team realized that Inaccess’ control solutions and VPP offering perfectly complemented our market leading asset management offerings, and that began a more serious discussion with Inaccess.
But the main factor that precipitated this deal is the evolution in the renewables market. We are seeing remarkable growth in energy storage. Our customers are seeking opportunities for revenue growth with ancillary services, such as time shifting of energy, and that means they require a more sophisticated toolset to control their hybrid renewable energy and storage plants. They’re also shifting away from very long-term power purchase agreements and are being more exposed to market risk and merchant power prices.
The rising complexity of these challenges lends itself to more integrated solutions as opposed to siloed tools that require teams to make them work well together. The solution starts at the plant level and includes the entire technology stack. As Steve Jobs has said (quoting Alan Kay), “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” He was suggesting that more integrated solutions win in the long run.
And Power Factors didn’t have that control or trading capability?
Gary: Exactly. We have looked closely at our product line-up after the acquisitions of Greenbyte and 3megawatt in 2021, and we saw that we couldn’t address that need.
We also decided that building control and trading technology was a very long-term and risky endeavor. It is one thing to receive data from a power plant to make sense of it and provide guidance. We do that very well. It is quite another to provide control, SCADA, and economic optimization capability — all with the level of cybersecurity necessary in a control environment. Inaccess made that investment and became a leader in their market.
Christos, can you talk us through the history of Inaccess?
Christos Georgopoulos, Chief, Controls and Grid Integration at Power Factors and former CEO and co-founder of Inaccess: We started as a smart controller company in 2000, and in around 2008 we diversified into providing smart controls for renewable energy assets. We’ve been an international provider of SCADA systems and control platforms, focusing on utility-scale systems and we have worked with virtually all the global renewable players, utilities, and oil and gas companies. They use our systems to monitor assets, control them, and dispatch electricity.
In recent years, we’ve also enabled customers to connect grid controls with market signals and pricing data and so on. Our goal is to enable our existing customers to make the decisions that will maximize both their energy output and their economic output.
Why did it appeal to you to work with Power Factors?
Christos: It made sense to form a strategic cooperation, but it goes deeper than that. As Gary said, we have worked with Power Factors a lot so there already was a good relationship of trust. And the discussion also came at the right time because we were discussing various options for fundraising. We could have raised money to continue to compete but, by coming together, we can create value for customers by investing more money in building the core technologies that our customers need.
We also appreciated that Power Factors is focused on large players. We believe that, as one company, we can satisfy the needs of the larger players of the world. They will really drive renewables and the new energy revolution at a massive scale and they uniquely appreciate the technology sophistication we are already investing in.
Gary: It’s a great point. Customers are adding gigawatts of capacity each year, and they don’t want to have to piece together technology and make it work. They want to focus on what they do best: building, buying, repowering, developing, and improving power plants. We are a company they can trust and that can support them on a global scale.
Does this mean utilities are moving away from building their own software?
Gary: Yes. They are realizing that winning in renewables will mean providing energy at as low a cost as they can, and that they can’t just adapt their old software solutions if they want to accomplish this.
Twenty years ago, when the renewables market was more nascent, utilities had to build their own asset management software. Today, utilities see there are strong commercial solutions in the market that will help them keep pace with the changing market. They won’t be cost-competitive if they build their own solutions.
Christos: I agree. This world of energy and power trading unveils completely new possibilities for a lot of our clients with renewable asset portfolios. Given the generally unpredictable behavior of these renewable assets, they are discovering that it’s extremely complex to safely capture these opportunities, since it is challenging to interface with the grid and the market and implement strategies that enable simultaneous income from multiple services. That is a problem our platform is solving by delivering the building blocks that reliably enable and manage such services and enable their coexistence.
When will we hear more about how the integration with Greenbyte and 3megawatt is going so far?
Gary: We are deep into product integration and we’re not slowing down our product development plan. We’re really excited to share that with our customers, partners, and prospects later in fall 2022. But this is a fast-changing market, and we will keep looking at opportunities to build and buy the technology that empowers our customers with the tools they need to continue to change the way the world is powered.