We recently caught up with Robert Ogden, CEO and Founder of Renewable Exchange, who aim to drive informational and technological industry change with a firm focus on efficiency, simplicity and transparency in their solutions.
The purpose of the Tech For Good series of interviews is to create a platform that showcases and champions companies, products and technologists who are using technology as a force for positive change in the world.
Robert’s background is in finance and, prior to launching Renewable Exchange, he worked in the energy industry as a Trading Manager. Responsible for gas, power and renewables, Robert traded a cross-commodity portfolio worth over £350 million annually. He now uses his diverse experience and knowledge to further expand the business offering and drive industry transformation.
Robert: My name is Robert Ogden, I’m the Founder and CEO at Renewable Exchange. Renewable Exchange is an online platform connecting sellers and buyers of renewable energy. It’s somewhat like an Airbnb for renewable energy assets. We are enabling new renewable projects (solar and wind farms typically) to get built without subsidies.
Robert: I came up with the idea for the platform when working in the energy sector as a trader. I realised that renewable energy generators have very little information about the market and no simple and effective way of finding buyers for their green power. This meant that they were often getting very poor deals. We want the renewable energy industry to continue to grow and for that to happen it’s essential that there is enough of a financial incentive for the generators and asset owners. The Renewable Exchange platform does two things for them: it offers deep insights about their assets and provides tools that help them access the market and maximise the revenue. With higher returns, comes more investment to the industry.
Robert: Introducing change is never easy – when we first started with the platform, it took a lot of time to convince the first customers to try it out. It’s because everyone was so used to the old way of doing things, they didn’t even consider the huge benefits using digital technology could bring to the market.
The informational bias was one of the main issues in the market – the buy-side had the resource and access to a wealth of information, whereas the sell-side was very disadvantaged in that sense. We decided that the first step is to ensure that the market becomes more fair and transparent. We therefore provide access to the information hub free of charge, providing renewable energy asset owners with data they need to make informed decisions about their projects.
But a lot has changed since we started. There have now been quite a few other companies trying to enter this space. What makes us different is our focus on access to unbiased information. We continue to provide price insights to all generators and maintain low prices to those who wish to use the tendering tools, which means that our solutions are accessible to all types of assets, both small and large-scale. We want to stick to our ethos and continue with this approach as we expand our services abroad.
Robert: The tech industry has gone through a phase of intense growth in the past 2 years as the global pandemic pushed many industries into the digital space. Tech professionals have now a myriad of job opportunities to choose from, many offering great pay, flexible working and other benefits. If you get 10 fantastic options to choose from, what can convince you to join one company over the other? It’s knowing that what you do is for the right causes, that you support the planet and not add to the detrimental effects of climate change; that you help people and create a more fair and just industry!
Robert: I think it’s fair to say that people recognise a good product and fantastic customer service and will always return to these products and services that are there for more than just profit. I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve, I can definitely say that Renewable Exchange revolutionised the PPA market in the UK. The feedback we get from our customers and the fact that we see generators come back to us again and again shows the huge value our platform delivers. As renewables grow in the UK and worldwide, there’s still so much room for innovation – we continue to expand our offering, too. The audience in this industry is now much more receptive to that than in the past. I firmly believe the UK has all we need to lead the way in the ‘tech for good’ space in the energy sector: with innovators, entrepreneurs and the nation supportive of the growth of renewables.