A P2P green energy exchange platform; heat pumps and vertical farming were just some of the ideas discussed at pro-manchester’s GreenTech Conference 2023.
Thursday’s event at No.1 Circle Square, Oxford Road, Manchester, included a panel discussion entitled ‘Sustainable tech success stories’, hosted by BusinessCloud executive editor Chris Maguire.
Somayeh Taheri, CEO and founder, Urban Chain; Paul Myers, managing director of Farm Urban; and Simon Roberts, founder of Heatio, told the audience of more than 100 people that GreenTech had the ability to change lives and save the environment.
Taheri is a former research scientist at the University of Manchester and launched Urban Chain in 2017. She won all 30 competitions she entered the startup into during her first two years in business.
Urban Chain opens up green sustainable energy to new markets, allowing consumers to place an exact order for electricity and for generators to meet that order.
One of the big attractions is that the company’s technology irons out fluctuations in wholesale energy prices and allows the user to set the price they can afford.
The company has already generated £1.7m in turnover with a further £22m in the pipeline.
“We have to make green energy open to all,” she said. “I believe in Urban Chain so much I plan to do an IPO in the next three-five years. Greenwashing hasn’t gone away, which is why we need better tracing and tracking of green energy so that the system is not being abused.
“We want our technology to be contained within a microchip inserted in a smart energy meter to encourage greater use of green energy from the closest source.
“I’ve been told for years that I’m too ambitious and the green energy revolution isn’t going to happen. I ignore them.”
Paul Myers is the managing director of Farm Urban, which is a spin-out from the University of Liverpool and is all about vertical farming.
Myers wants to see the tops of multi-storey car parks and the roofs of city centre buildings converted into urban farms and an environmental oasis similar to Melbourne Skyfarm in Australia.
He said: “When we first launched Farm Urban in 2013 there was a lot of cynicism and ignorance around the green agenda. That has now gone. Society recognises we have to do more.
“Vertical farming is good for the environment because it uses less pesticides. It’s good for the community because you can grow your own produce. And it’s good for the cities as well. Imagine looking up and seeing a green oasis in the sky.”
Simon Roberts is the founder of home energy management system Heatio, which is currently in the midst of a £500,000 fundraise.
He explained: “We’re trying to address the three key challenges of high density deployment of heat pump systems around cost, convenience and comfort.
“We want to make clean energy affordable to more people. One of the challenges around that is the capital cost of heat pump installations on that journey to decarbonisation and electrification.
“Previously we raised around £350,000 but we deployed across 65 installations where we funded heat pumps into people’s home and reduced the capital costs by nearly 50 per cent.
“The average cost of an air source heat pump is between £10,000-£14,000. There’s huge demand because the story is so attractive. Put a heat pump in and save money of your fuel bills.”