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Becoming Greener Guest Series: Powerstar

We love anything relating to energy. We love it even more when it’s technical. And we love it, even more, when it’s being used for the greater good: to reduce the effects of climate change.

One company doing just that is Powerstar. Using smart management of multiple power flows, they’re able to reduce carbon output, save money, and connect critical loads for their clients. By enhancing power resilience to avoid black-outs, their award-winning technology takes a business’ site-wide perspective into consideration to implement a comprehensive and smart microgrid solution that meets energy demands.

Powerstar’s CCO, Alastair Morris, will be speaking at our Becoming Greener: The Corporate Sustainability Summit taking place on September 23rd 2021. So, we thought we’d sit down with him beforehand to do a little more digging around Powerstar as a whole, their technology, and to discover their thoughts and insights about the role of corporate sustainability.

What are Powerstar’s goals?

Having helped our customers reduce electricity bills for over 20 years, Powerstar has now invested in developing technology that also supports net-zero goals through optimised renewable generation and electric vehicle charging. Our goal is to expand this offering considerably to support as many projects as possible.

For our part, we’ve already implemented the technology in our own operations, and we are now looking to achieve an overall, and absolute, net-zero level of CO2 emissions.

How critical do you think having corporate sustainability goals are to success?

I think it’s absolutely critical. Customers and employees alike are increasingly judging companies on what they are doing and how they are behaving, rather than just on their products. We all have much more access to information about companies and are using it in our decision making. So long as we care about sustainability as individuals, companies will need to take action in order to succeed.

Do you think companies are genuinely doing enough to reduce their carbon emissions?

There are a few that are leading the way and setting a great example, but the vast majority haven’t yet built the requirement into their business plans, so they feel unable to invest in reducing their emissions. This is still leading to a lot of greenwashing – for example, they switch to a renewable electricity tariff and think they’ve ticked a box, when in fact nothing in their behaviour, the national grid, or the climate has actually changed.

Do any industries stand out to you as ones that are pushing sustainability goals further?

Within the private sector, we’ve seen the greatest level of investment in concrete change from manufacturing companies. They’re familiar with the business models and decision-making needed to invest in equipment that will help them to remain competitive. They are now focussing that on their net-zero goals and meeting the sustainability requirements of their customers. Other industries are still leaning toward polishing the surface rather than making radical changes to their sites and supply chains.

Do you think there’s a greater interest from businesses to implement technology to improve their sustainable credentials? 

Post-Covid, this has changed dramatically, with a huge surge in understanding and interest in the technology already available. Solar panels, battery storage, and electric vehicles have all now been accepted as proven technologies that play an important part in achieving net-zero goals.

How is Powerstar helping to create a net zero world? 

Powerstar designs and manufactures power management systems for commercial and industrial sites. These are focused around a battery storage system that is used to provide a stable and resilient power supply, while also balancing the electricity for the site to be as efficient as possible.

Please can you explain your innovative technology?

Our software uses artificial intelligence to predict how much electricity will be needed by the site and how much is likely to be generated by solar or wind. It can charge the battery when it’s cheapest and cleanest to do so, thus minimising the use of non-renewable electricity from the national grid.

With the imminent increase in electric vehicle charging and electrified heating, it will become ever more important to manage these huge power demands and ensure they are using clean and affordable electricity.

Do you have an example of when you’ve enabled a business to become more sustainable? 

One of the largest telecommunication companies in the UK came to Powerstar for help with electrifying its fleet of vehicles. Based in London, and already very energy-intensive, the company’s electricity distribution network was unable to connect the rapid vehicle chargers that were needed to make their operations viable with electric vans.

Powerstar’s combination of battery system and power management software enabled them to buffer the rapid EV chargers from the national grid. The battery is charged much more slowly than the vehicles and so lowers demand on the connection. Without the system, the chargers simply couldn’t have been installed, and the business would have needed to retain diesel vans.

The system is also protecting their site from fluctuations or cuts in their power supply, which could otherwise damage equipment and stop critical activity.

Do you have anything else to add, or any more insight for us?

The ability to connect net-zero solutions to the national grid is rarely talked about and poorly understood but can be a major limitation to companies achieving their goals. The UK’s national grid is fairly old and many substations, cables, and connections need upgrading to cope with the changes needed for the UK to achieve net-zero. You may well need to pay for the upgrade yourself if you want to connect solar panels or EV chargers, and it can take years. Or, your project may simply be turned down. That’s why Powerstar has developed systems that can buffer or isolate a net-zero microgrid from the national infrastructure.

We’d like to thank Alastair for his time in providing these detailed answers and for sharing some great insight about Powerstar’s technology and stance on sustainability.

If you’re interested to find out more, don’t forget to sign up for our event, Becoming Greener: The Corporate Sustainability Summit. It’s taking place at the Leeds Digital Festival on Thursday 23rd September from 1pm to 4pm. 

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See you there!

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