Strategies for growth

Tim Emrich: We’ve got the power

The CEO and Co-founder of UK Power Reserve says flexibility is the key to its overall success.

By Dan Matthews

Every day in the UK, consumers use an average of about 14 kW of electricity. That’s the equivalent of boiling 110 kettles. This energy flows into households and workplaces with apparent ease, but in reality the National Grid faces a battle to keep pace with the country’s power needs.

Experts warn of an energy shortfall that will sharpen as oil-fired and coal-powered stations go offline to meet environmental targets. A solution is needed to secure our energy future, which is something that Emrich wants to be a major part of. He co-founded UK Power Reserve in 2010. The business provides flexible energy generation and battery storage services to the National Grid and acts to balance the system when demand for energy threatens to surpass supply.

In its first year of operation the business generated 9mW of electricity. By March next year, that figure will have grown to 533mW, with 813mW online by the end of the decade.

‘We’re the country’s biggest flexible energy generator,’ he says. ‘We’re not a utility that pumps around the clock, nor a renewable source that can only supply when the weather is right. We sit squarely in the middle, helping the National Grid to keep the lights on.

‘We have a competitive advantage in the market because we’re new and not encumbered by old legacy systems. The business has been built from the ground up as an agile and innovative provider.

‘We’ve become a bit of a challenger to the utilities that have dominated the scene for decades and we wake up ­every morning asking how can we take more market share?’

UK Power Reserve’s steep growth curve has come from building power plants, acquiring them from competitors and updating or expanding its acquisitions with more capacity. The strategy is reflected in booming sales. In 2016, it posted turnover of £18 million; by March 2018 the figure will have quadrupled.

For Emrich the UK is a great place to grow a business. He objects to aspects of the regulatory environment, which he believes occasionally favour established utilities, but believes the political and economic landscape gives businesses ample scope for growth.

> Tim is one of our 2017 Faces of a Vibrant Economy. Meet the 2017 Faces.

Power surge

Emrich feels the UK has a strong reputation globally and that many countries look to it as an example of good practice in the energy market.

‘We’re looking to expand internationally. In our industry it’s a terrific calling card to say, “We’re the leading flexible supplier in the UK and we want to do business in your country.” Brexit is disappointing, but people still look favourably upon the UK.’

With a strong track record in place, Emrich has ambitious plans. UK Power Reserve will double in size, at least, with ‘meaningful progress’ in international markets, as well as further entrenchment in the UK.

He says: ‘When we started we had nothing, but the pieces have come together to create something special. We consider ourselves to be the best in class and we want to export that to other countries.’

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