Passionate about…Pittsburgh!

When I founded Become Energy, one basic (yet vague) goal motivated me: to ‘make positive energy simple.’ While the details around this were loose at best, I wanted to create a company that..

…delivered real projects, done well – MAKE
…which had a positive financial, environmental and social impact – POSITIVE
…was in a sector I knew about with an addressable problem – ENERGY 
…did not confuse the hell out of the customer – SIMPLE

So, to say it was a ‘company’ back then would be a bit of a stretch.  But since Become Energy’s incorporation, a lot has happened (to be shared over a few beers!).  There have been highs and lows, but it’s been a true journey.  A journey where I’m continually…

INSPIRED – by our fortunate access and engagement to some of the most influential and impactful brands and the people who represent them.
HUMBLED – by working with some of the most talented and passionate people I’ve ever known.
PROUD – of what is taking place and excited by what the future holds.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons for concern and anxiety: at a macro-level, the continuing political uncertainty and the harsh realities of climate change rearing its ugly head; and for me personally: a young family who don’t see me as much as they should along with the financial reality of putting ‘all my chips’ into making this business a success.

What does Pittsburgh have to do with any of this?

After years of feeling motivated (while shocked), inspired (while concerned), and enthused (while angered) by this person (through his insightful messages), I’m incredibly honoured to be attending Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Pittsburgh this week.  It would make sense to have a clear objective of what I’m looking to gain from this experience, but in truth it feels like one of those times when you just ‘close your eyes and jump right in.’

If you’re interested – and I take zero offense if not – I’ll be sharing thoughts, insights, ideas, connections and conversations throughout this coming week.  So, as they say… watch this space!

Matt

*********************

DAY 1: “WE ARE GOING TO WIN THIS” – AL GORE

 

Climate Reality Leadership Corps

Our Climate Reality Leadership Corps UK cohort!

 

Day 1 of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training provided an incredible reminder and reinforcement of ‘why we’re doing what we’re doing.’  One would think answering some pretty basic (yet fundamental) questions would be easy, but I found it to be a challenge requiring introspection.

– Why you?

– Why now?

– Why this issue?

When you’re running an incredibly fast race, you don’t really have the time to step back and reflect on why the race matters in the first place.  We had a chance to do this and I feel fortunate that my compass has been recalibrated.

And then Al Gore walks on stage and speaks to you – you personally, like no one else was in the room (a rare talent) – and spends two hours taking you through a journey which is incredibly structured, yet natural, and answers the following

– Do we need to change?

– Can we change?

– Will we change?

Spoiler alert, the answers to all three questions…YES!

Apart from a feeling of supreme motivation and purpose, here are a few additional takeaways I thought worth sharing:

Pittsburgh’s story is pretty incredible– The city that was thrust into the international news after Trump’s ‘I represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris’ statement, has a powerful vision to play a key role in the renewable energy revolution.  Mayor Peduto shared a poignant recap of history where he stated, “Pittsburgh built America – and we also created polluted air and contaminated water at the same time.”  But they were also left out in the cold in 1979 after the US stopped relying on domestic steel production.  And while the next 30 years were a challenge (20% unemployment rates, etc), Pittsburgh “rolled up its sleeves” and “rebuilt a city that was left for dead.”  What has emerged is a city playing a key role in the decarbonisation of our energy and transport system.  Today there are 13,000 clean energy jobs in Pittsburgh with a thriving research and innovation centre that is building the future of the city – and the US.

The Climate Reality model makes sense – Equipping individuals with science-based facts and compelling content, while challenging them to ‘act’, is an approach that will (and already has!) have a serious impact.  And while we live in a world that is more politically polarised than ever before, acting on climate change cannot be a partisan issue. We need to make sure we’re collectively working with those that may have different views to our own to avoid the echo chamber and work towards inclusive solutions to the most pressing global challenge of our time.

Strength in diversity…and numbers – I would assume the assortment of backgrounds from other countries is similar, but the c. 20 people participating from the UK represent a wide range of industries and vocations. We have an equities analyst, executive coach, augmented reality film student, oil and gas consultant, local councillor, and many more.  Oh yeah, and an industry colleague (but more importantly, a friend), David Hill from Open Energi.  But in total there are 1,300 people, from over 30 countries, who have all come together with a shared goal – telling ‘truth to power.’

An incredible day 1 with lots more to come – I’m exhausted (emotionally and physically – jetlag never fun!), but excited for more!

Matt

Matt Allen is Founder and CEO of Become Energy.

Michael Clark speaking at EMEX, 22-23 November

Michael Clark, CTO at Become Energy will be joining a seminar on the ‘Basics of Battery Storage Technology’ at this year’s EMEX.

Chaired by BT’s Robert Williams, the seminar will explore the main factors that should be taken into consideration to ensure a successful implementation, and give a basic understanding of how the technology works and the opportunities and limitations it presents.

Time: 14:30 – 15:00

Date: Day 1 – 22nd November 2017

Theatre: Renewables, Supply and Storage

Venue: EXCEL London

Further details are available here.

Optimisation & Maintenance – O&M Reinvented

National Grid’s 2017 Future Energy Scenarios predicts electricity storage capacity in the UK could grow to almost 6GW by 2020. At Become Energy, we think the best place for this growth is behind-the-meter, or in other words, in our businesses and homes.

This approach means there’s no need to buy up land or invest in expensive new grid connections, and most importantly, the benefits flow to the consumer, in the form of cost savings, revenues and greater control of energy consumption.

But the industry – and the technology – is in its infancy. This creates challenges for businesses who want to take an industry leading position as early adopters of battery storage, and who need to navigate what are often complex planning, legal, technical and commercial decisions in order to evaluate the opportunity and select and configure a battery storage system appropriately.

The characteristics of battery storage systems differ widely between manufacturers, and these parameters – from power rating, capacity, cell chemistry, round-trip efficiency, degradation profile and tolerance to various depth of discharge – will all have an influence on the economic viability of a project.

Once the appropriate technical solution has been identified and a battery storage system installed, the next step is to maximise the economic returns. Ensuring the value from the battery is maximised 24/7 requires a different skill set – O&M – but as a recent article in industry publication PV Tech explains – the O in this case is all about optimisation, not operation.

Determining when the battery should charge, discharge or export electricity, which revenues to stack and when, and how to maximise the returns whilst respecting site operational constraints and the technical characteristics of the system are all key to optimising the commercial performance of the system and its lifespan.

At Become Energy, our aim is to use our expertise to simplify the process and guide businesses through these stages. We develop, fund and manage battery storage systems for businesses, and  ‘make positive energy simple’ by providing a fully funded, turnkey battery storage solution, in partnership with our key technical and financial partners.

We’re fortunate to count industry-leading experts as part of our team.  Our CTO, Michael Clark, led one of the UK’s largest smart grid trials, Low Carbon London, for UK Power Networks and has worked in the electricity industry since 2004, advising developers, suppliers, network operators and investors on technical and market strategy. More recently, we’re delighted to welcome Matthew Boulton on board as COO. In his previous role as COO of Solarcentury, Matthew was responsible for all aspects of global project and service delivery, overseeing the deployment of over 750MW of solar PV across Europe, Latin America and Africa.

Our in-house experts are here to help ‘make positive energy simple’ for your company. Get in touch today to begin exploring how your business can benefit from a bespoke battery storage system that is optimised for your business’s requirements.

Matt Allen is Founder and CEO of Become Energy

Michael Clark speaking at Solar & Storage Live, 3-5 October

Don’t miss Michael Clark, Technical Director at Become Energy, as he joins the debate between developers and financiers at this year’s Solar & Storage Live…