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Featuring Green Tech: Kaluza

As part of our “Featuring Green Tech” initiative, we increase the awareness of local “disruptive” green technology businesses.

In this context, we caught up with James Hunt and Rich Tiffin of Kaluza; a real-time energy retail platform and sister-company of OVO Energy, one of the UK’s largest independent energy suppliers, focused on putting the long-term future of people and the planet before short-term profits.

ADLIB: For some background, who are Kaluza and what makes your business offering unique?

Kaluza: Kaluza is part of the OVO group, which celebrated its 10 birthday this September. OVO was started with the aim of providing another way to the big 6 energy companies, with the focus being on affordable green renewable energy and excellent customer service. The vision of Kaluza as part of that goal is to support moves to an intelligent distributed zero-carbon grid. We do this by designing, integrating and installing devices and software which intelligently pull from the grid at times of low demand and/or feed into the grid at times of high demand.

For example, one flagship product of ours is the world’s first commercial vehicle to grid charger. This will charge your electric vehicle in the same way as other home smart chargers, but also allows the battery in the vehicle to be used to power devices around your home and even feedback into the grid. In this way, your electric car can charge itself when electricity is cheap and plentiful and then sell electricity back at times of high demand when it is more expensive.

ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the green technology aspect of your product?

Kaluza: Renewal energy sources, such as solar and wind, by their very nature, can be very dependant on external factors as to when power is generated. This is in contrast to coal and nuclear which, to a certain extent, can be increased and decreased on demand to deal with surges and falls in energy consumption.

To support an intelligent and performant zero-carbon grid energy storage needs to be a key factor so that these surges and falls can be met and balanced by reserve capacity. There are effectively two ways of providing this capacity, firstly via centralised resources such as battery farms (as in the Tesla Australia example) and secondly via distributed small capacity in individual homes.

The other key factor alongside storage is balancing demand. This can be achieved by segregating demand into those devices which need energy now vs those which need energy sometime soon. For example, an electric cooker needs energy now to cook a family dinner, whereas an electric car needs enough energy throughout the night to be charged for the morning commute. Smartly managing demand by these devices across thousands of homes can reduce the draw from the grid at a peak time for those essential energy devices.

ADLIB: Who are the people behind the tech and what do they do?

Kaluza: As well as teams working on the physical hardware that is installed, we also have teams working on the software to control the devices and also to intelligently balance the grid by controlling many devices at once. There are also teams working on software to streamline every aspect of the journey from purchase through to supporting engineers installing.

ADLIB: What does Kaluza aim to achieve in terms of sustainability?

Kaluza: Kaluza aims to deliver on distributed infrastructure to support a carbon-neutral grid. This is just one part of our founder Stephen Fitzpatrick’s Plan Zero initiative designed to lay out a roadmap to a carbon-neutral society.

ADLIB: Is there one piece of wisdom that you could pass on to those who are looking to contribute to the Green Tech industry?

Kaluza: Above all be imaginative. The problems of tomorrow aren’t going to be solved in the same way as they have been done before. Also, there will be no one big idea that solves the daily dependence we have on carbon, this will only be done by thousands of small initiatives instead.

ADLIB: And finally, what’s in the pipeline for Kaluza? What’s on the horizon?

Kaluza: We are just at the start of our journey so the next steps are more installs, more partnerships with other device manufacturers, new types of devices, etc. As the shift to electric vehicles becomes the norm over the next few years, we will be there providing the infrastructure to make sure the grid not only cope but also benefits.

Thanks for sharing, Rich and James!