Zero-cost residential solar at scale: Why we invested in GRYD Energy

Learn how GRYD Energy is overturning the household solar market—with no upfront costs to homeowners.

Sarah Finegan

Senior Director
March 5, 2024
Share article

"Solar is the star child of renewables investment"

The home energy landscape is rapidly changing. Electricity demand is projected to double in the next 10 years and homeowners have become acutely aware of the cost impact of an unpredictable energy market, with household bills increasing by 81% since October 2022. 

It's not surprising that solar is seeing a huge resurgence across Europe, with UK adoption at a 12-year high. In 2023, 190,000 solar systems were installed as homeowners scramble for savings in a challenging economic environment.

A flurry of solar startups have entered the space in recent years, securing funding from top VCs such as Norrsken, 2150, and LocalGlobe. These are all addressing challenges around the cost-efficient and scalable installation and deployment of solar energy systems.  

Cost continues to be the biggest barrier to widespread solar adoption by homeowners.

Only 2% of UK homes have solar, despite it being the cheapest form of energy per kWh. Why? Because 70% of UK homeowners are unable to afford the cost of solar ownership. Though the costs have halved over the past decade, for a typical home it would still cost around £13,000, making it an out-of-reach investment for most people. And considering the average time to recoup the cost of solar is seven to 10 years—while most people expect they will move house in around five years—investing in solar doesn't make economic sense for most households. This means 8.5 million homes in the UK with roof space perfect for solar are locked out of the market. 

Enter GRYD Energy. Through GRYD, developers can eliminate the cost of solar from their project, with GRYD providing an optimal solar and battery storage system for the home and its available roof space—well beyond the minimum requirements of the current regulations, which are only set to get tougher through the upcoming Future Homes Standard (2025). This helps the developer achieve the highest level of building efficiency while homeowners get the benefits of solar without the associated costs of ownership.

The clear benefits to developers and homeowners—combined with the UK’s ambitions to increase new home construction and increase the UK’s solar capacity five-fold to 70GW by 2035—means GRYD is uniquely placed to give millions more homes access to the benefits of solar. 

Changing the game—with no upfront costs for homeowners

A wave of new startups have flooded the solar space in recent years, offering homeowners solutions to adopt solar. However, these companies focus on two things:

  1. Going direct to consumers through retrofit. 
  2. Supporting the homeowner toward ownership of a solar system by simplifying the process for upfront purchase or access to financing. 

The GRYD team saw the issues in the traditional solar deployment model, and is changing the game—shifting the focus from purchase and ownership to a combined hardware and software service offering. GRYD owns, operates, and optimises solar generation and battery storage for homes. The homeowner is not burdened with the upfront cost, meaning they have no payback period and get immediate savings from day one. 

A uniquely experienced founding team, poised to scale an untapped part of the solar market 

When Mohamed, Scott, and Tom came together to solve this problem during the Antler residency in London in July 2023, there was a sense of determination to exploit what they had learnt in their varied careers to create impact at scale on people and planet. 

The team draws on their 20-plus years of experience working in energy, climate, technology, and property, combined with their experience building high-growth startups and working in traditional industry to disrupt this specific part of the market. It is intrinsically harder to enter the new build market as it requires the right expertise, track record, and nuanced understanding of working and delivering complex infrastructure and housing developments at scale—precisely the unique experience of the GRYD team. During the residency, we were excited to see the formation of this team given their intersection of experience against a backdrop of tailwinds and pressing regulatory changes.  

Both Mohamed (CEO) and Scott (CPO) have a civil engineering background. Mohamed has focused on infrastructure and energy master-planning on some of the largest projects on the planet, including Neom, the $500 billion mega project in Saudi covering an area the size of Belgium. 

Scott’s focus has been in the property development space, delivering over 3,000 homes across projects of all shapes and sizes. However, five years into his career in the built environment, frustrated with the pace of change and adoption of technology, Scott made the unusual transition from construction into tech to lead product at climate-focused startups. 

Tom (CCO) completes the founding team as a second-time founder turned climate tech investor and advisor. He previously co-founded and scaled the UK’s fastest-growing craft beer brand JUBEL beer before moving into venture capital as an investor and advisor to disruptive climate tech startups.

Achieving virtual power plant scale with intelligent optimisation and peer-2-peer energy sharing ambitions

GRYD has big ambitions and simply deploying solar is not the end goal for the GRYD team. It's the first step towards the GRYD Virtual Power Plant (VPP). They are developing the intelligent optimisation platform that underpins their fully decentralised clean energy generation and storage network. 

Starting with optimisation of the home, monitoring granular energy usage at the appliance level, they improve the home’s solar self-consumption by shifting its energy demand in line with solar generation.

Next, they scale that up to optimise at the network level and enable peer-to-peer energy sharing between GRYD customers and employ its generation and storage assets to provide critical flexibility and demand side response services to the traditional grid.

By owning and operating both the hardware and software under the GRYD VPP, they have the unique advantage of being able to amplify the value extracted from their assets to the benefit of everyone.

With their unique insight into the complex property development, energy, and scalable technology spaces, the GRYD team is rapidly scaling the deployment of solar by making it the obvious standard for new build properties without the burden of cost being put on the developer or homeowner. And they’re maximising the efficient use of the deployed solar generation and storage with intelligent software.

Antler’s investment hypothesis

Since Antler invested in GRYD as their day zero investor, we have seen Scott, Mohamed, and Tom make tremendous traction and progress. They quickly deployed their first small-scale solar system, generating clean energy for a home. To date, it's already generated 50kWh of electricity, enough to charge nearly 5,000 phones. They’ve built out their MVP and tested end-to-end operations, monitoring, and billing.

The GRYD team has begun work on their first full-scale, three-home pilot project with a house builder in South West England, due to go live at the start of March. They are also working on their first full-scale, 100-home deployment with another developer due to kick off later this year.

Ben Kelly, Development Manager at the site of GRYD’s pilot project said, "I had been thinking about adding solar on this project, but the additional cost was a concern, and I hadn't even considered adding battery storage. When the GRYD team approached me with their proposition it was a no-brainer. Lower energy bills, significantly reduced emissions, and an all round better product for the homeowner, without the typical high cost."

The GRYD team has attracted strong interest from property developers and amassed a pipeline of 250 homes across four developers. They are in discussions with the developers of a further 1,000+ homes, including some major UK house builders. They have also progressed with setting out the funding roadmap that will take them to 50,000 homes deployed within five years, putting them well on their way to eliminating upwards of 100,000 tonnes of CO2e annually, over the solar system lifetime’s of 25+ years. 

Ollie Purdue, Partner at Antler in the UK, highlights the tremendous promise of the solar market in the UK: "We've witnessed a significant uptick in this market's momentum in recent months. With increased capital infusion and increased levels of talent, the trajectory appears promising."

Sarah Finegan, Director at Antler in the UK, describes GRYD’s unique position to capture this opportunity: "The GRYD team brings a unique intersection of expertise spanning energy, climate, technology, and property, coupled with a proven track record in high-growth startups and traditional industry making them well-positioned to navigate regulatory shifts and capitalise on industry tailwinds in this exciting and growing space."

To learn more about how GRYD is building the next-gen alternative to the energy grid with its smart solar systems, follow them on LinkedIn.

Ready to join a global community of driven founders including the GRYD team? Apply to Antler’s next London residency.

Sarah Finegan

Senior Director

Sarah is a Senior Director at Antler. Having previously worked with Antler in Berlin, where she was a key part of Antler's operations in DACH and Eastern Europe, Sarah now leads supporting Antler's growing portfolio in the UK. Sarah brings experience from her previous roles in finance, early-stage technology companies, and venture capital, and she is an avid sports fan and world traveller.

More insights

See all articles
Insights
5 min read
Championing a new generation of women founders in the UK and beyond

Antler’s exclusive “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Building Venture-Scalable Businesses” summit in London brought together top women founders for a dynamic afternoon of thought leadership and discussion. Read highlights of the event—essential insights for the next generation of women founders in the UK and beyond.

Insights
5 min read
Daria Stepanova: The rocket scientist using data to combat the climate crisis

Meet the spacetech founder tackling climate change by setting the new global standard for precise and continuous greenhouse gas emissions measurements.

Insights
5 min read
Introducing Canada's Next Big Thing: A blueprint for future entrepreneurs

Exciting news for entrepreneurs ready to leave their mark: We've launched a pivotal initiative that spotlights the diverse opportunities within Canada's thriving industries.

Our report curates pivotal problem statements from Canada's leading tech visionaries, founders, and VCs, offering aspiring entrepreneurs a pathway to impactful innovation.

Discover 20+ big opportunities pinpointed by top Canadian minds, spread across six fast-growing industries. Each challenge is an invitation to create and innovate—leading the way to the future.

We hope it will serve as a roadmap for aspiring founders ready to build tomorrow's solutions today.