Event Review – Sustainability Forum

On Thursday 25th June Jo-Jo Hubbard (NC 2000-05) gave a fascinating talk in partnership with the Sustainability Forum at the College and OM Business Sustainability group about her company’s exciting direction in the energy market. Her company, Electron, is a London-based energy technology company, combining blockchain and energy expertise to design and build digital infrastructure for the energy industry. ​The company is developing the identity and trading platforms that will underpin the transition to cheaper, cleaner, more resilient power systems.​ Moreover, the company, which was founded in 2015, is internationally recognised as a leader in its field, having been named a 2017 World Economic Forum “Technology Pioneer”, and recently a “Cleantech 100” company. Electron currently operates in three countries, working alongside utilities, regulators and other technology providers to bring flexibility and coordination to energy grids.​

Jo-Jo explained that she moved into the Renewable Energy sector having worked for McKinsey & Company before deciding that there was huge potential for blockchain technology to improve the flow of information between producers of renewable energy and consumers to ensure that consumers can purchase their electricity at the most competitive prices from renewable suppliers rather than the national grid. Essentially, blockchain is a way of distributing information to different parties with a digital certificate that ensures that the information is reliable and can be trusted. Jo-Jo explained that now that there are all sorts of renewable energy suppliers for the UK market alongside the national grid. The national grid mostly relies on gas for electricity generation and there is sometimes an oversupply of electricity. In these situations, renewable energy generation is shut down. However, what Electron aims to do is to create a digital network that when over supply happens, a renewable energy supplier can connect with major consumers, such as Tesco, and offer their energy at a competitive price so that Tesco can choose to purchase its energy from a renewable source at a cheaper price rather than automatically buy it from the grid. Jo-Jo sees this technology as vital if the UK is to meet its carbon neutral target by 2050.

After Jo-Jo finished her talk there was an interesting discussion on the use of various types of renewable energy and the capacity of hydrogen to store energy was highlighted. Other issues such as the need for greater recycling of batteries and for synthetic replacements for trace elements used in batteries such as cobalt was also discussed. Overall, it was a fascinating evening and we were very grateful to Jo-Jo and the OM Business Sustainability group for putting it on.

Izzy Hodgson (DA L6) and Sam Elviss (B1 L6)

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