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7 October 2021

BP broadens renewables accelerator with Blueprint buy

This week BP has bought another company with the initials BP, Blueprint Power Technologies – this is a New York firm that offers cloud based software to manage energy on large real estate portfolios, such as a New York Skyscraper. The company has paid an unspecified amount for Blueprint, likely just a few $ million up front, but expects great things from it.

The idea is to turn commercial buildings into a flexible power asset and it seems to have two key ingredients – solar generation from the windows and roofs of such buildings and Electric Vehicle recharging bays around the building. Naturally there will be some batteries involved, to sit between the two, and the software makes a number of clever decisions, such as ensuring you only use green energy sources, or makes the most cash possible from the building’s own generation – it also keeps records so that any building owner can provide transparent details of how few emissions it is responsible for.

We feel this type of software business will emerge automatically as an extension to a PPA energy contracts, and makes perfect sense for real estate owners.

Under BP’s guidance it says it will now rapidly grow revenues – it already has 4 out of ten of New York’s largest real estate firms, and its partners include real estate companies Lennar, Tishman Speyer, LeFrak, Hines, Macerich, Related, Vornado Realty and Frame.

In total it has already established 100 million square feet of commercial real estate and has 6 separate distributed energy technology integrations. This does not seem to be a company focused on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) so much as the software that glues them together with other resources – as BIPV efforts improve with better and more transparent solar widows coming onto the market, instead of specific solar modules being attached to rooftops, the amount of energy a building can generate is rising significantly and it makes sense to make the best economic use of this, especially in a market like New York where the Governor has clear policies in favor of business which can prove they release zero emissions.

BP says that it will triple Blueprint’s generational power in a single year 2022, which we think is likely as more and more property owners are financially induced to become climate conscious.

Once connected to Blueprint’s power network, buildings can maximize onsite renewable generation, store energy when the carbon intensity of the grid is at its lowest, and use or trade energy when it’s not. Blueprint’s energy marketplace also pays building owners for their ability to flex their demand up or down to balance the grid and at times of high or low energy pricing.

A dashboard for the property owner displays energy flows and revenues achieved and forecast, helping owners track their power performance in real-time. All data is owned by and accessible to the building owner and can be used in guiding financial forecasts and sustainability investment decisions. We would think that a system like this can repay its costs almost immediately.

One of the things that the software can also take care of is adherence to the president’s Executive Order on cyber security around energy generation, since the software has been upgraded to be complaint.

One experiment Blueprint has with $3 million from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research & Development) with the LeFrak City site is embracing 150 EV chargers around the buildings. The software can use the car batteries attached to the charging network and make them active power market participants as well. But the most important element here is allowing building owners to sell off any spare solar capacity through the EV recharge network.

The business was created in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and all the city lights went dark. This wake up call alerted local real estate players that there was money in being the only building alive with power. It also mean that utility companies, policymakers, and regulators made the commitment to modernize the grid and plan for resilience – by relaxing permissions and permits.

Founding executives for Blueprint came from a variety of organizations but these included Google, Vestas, Boeing, and BNP Paribas and while this looks like a 15 man company, within a very short space of time, with BP connections and know how, this could easily transform into a full-energy management system for realty companies, including building the DER solar, battery and EV re-chargers as well, rather than simply managing them. This may allow this to scale very rapidly and extend outside of the US to any global capital. Initially growth will be to more cities in the US.

The company currently manages just 13 MW of renewable power which will go to 36 MW by the end of 2022 and on from there. BP will run Blueprint through its Launchpad accelerator which was launched in 2018 to fund and accelerate renewables businesses and has so far invested in Finite Carbon, STRYDE, LYTT, Onyx Insight, Fotech Solutions, Open Energi and now Blueprint Power. The company says that real estate has one of the highest carbon footprints of all sectors, contributing 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions.