Tonight, dozens of the country’s most innovative companies will congregate at the Science Museum in London for the fifth annual New Energy Awards – a celebration of “commitment to alternative sources of energy”.
Across the nine categories, there are 55 individuals and companies shortlisted to receive an award.
After speaking to the event founders for an overview of the awards ceremony, Blue & Green Tomorrow spoke to ten of them, and they each explained more about their business, and why they are strong contenders in their respective categories.
First up is Lancaster Cohousing, a Lancashire-based housing development company that has been nominated for developer of the year.
“[We are] the strongest contender in the developer of the year category because we have demonstrated that a community company working by consensus can carry through a large, complex and multi-faceted green building project that is self-sufficient in energy and low in carbon production.”
Next up is Zenex Energy, a company involved in energy saving and efficiency, whose managing director, Chris Farrell, is up for entrepreneur of the year.
“Zenex is leading the UK’s energy efficiency drive by implementing new methods of increasing the efficiency of households through the use of the Gas Saver, which will result in lower energy bills for households. This will create a fall in energy bills of £1 billion in four years if every one of the 1.5m replaced boilers each year is fitted with a Gas Saver.
“Chris has found a way to increase the efficiency of even A-rated boilers to a new level. They are called super-condensing boilers to show that this is a bridge further than anything else on the market. [A New Energy Award] would shine the spotlight on a fresh, British innovation, which is at the forefront of the world energy industry.”
Highview Power Storage is in the running for the newly-added innovator of the year, and claims it is “blazing the trail, not following the path”, when it comes to energy storage.
“Highview has taken a novel energy storage technology from initial concept to pilot demonstrator operating on the UK’s Grid. It is in fact the world’s first large-scale energy storage solution using liquid air. It is also the only new energy storage technology demonstration project on the Grid in the UK.”
Another contender for the innovator of the year crown is Quadrise Fuels International (QFI). It “offers a game changing technology, which enables step change improvement in economic and environmental performance in several major industries which consume heavy fuel oil.”
QFI summarised the reasons why it should be given the gong in four key points:
“QFI is the strongest contender because: breakthrough innovation in fuels technology; very large scale application at a global level; offering a win-win-win for producers and consumers improving costs and efficiency; delivering a large and measurable ‘green dividend’ at micro and macro levels.”
One of the firms in the university spin-out of the year category is Amantys, a power electronics company that formed in 2010 on the back of academic research conducted by a group at Cambridge University.
“Within its first two years of business, the company has attracted two financing rounds, launched first products and achieved first revenues. The latest investment round secured £4m from leading industrial and financial investors with ARM Limited and Moonray Investors (part of Fidelity International), and delivering a six-fold return to seed investors.
“Elected to the Global Cleantech 100 in 2011, its products are targeted at applications across the spectrum of generation, transmission and consumption, including wind and solar power generation, high voltage direct current, industrial and marine motor drives, locomotive traction and plant machinery, hybrid and electric vehicles, and data centre power supplies.”
In the investor of the year category, Oxford Capital, one of the longest established cleantech investors in the UK, is included amongst the nominees.
“2011 was notably a strong year for renewable energy investments. In terms of renewable infrastructure, Oxford Capital has financed nearly £20m worth of solar installations, which equates to roughly 6.5 megawatts (MW) of capacity. This was installed on over 2,500 homes in the Southwest of the UK and will provide 5.8m kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which should save over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 from being produced annually. Oxford Capital continues to be dedicated to investing in renewable energy infrastructure and related projects.”
Octopus Investments, a London-based investment company, is another firm vying for the title of investor of the year.
“With its strategic partnership with Lightsource Renewable Energy, Octopus’ dedicated in-house solar development company, [Octopus] has made a significant contribution to the UK solar market investing in both small and large scale solar power sites. In little over a year we have successfully raised and deployed over £100m into solar energy generation, making us the biggest investor in the UK commercial sector with over 50% of the large scale sites in the country.
“We are especially proud of this achievement given that, unlike some of our competitors, we started 2011 with zero solar investment. Our partnership with Lightsource enables us to complete our investments efficiently and in a shorter timeframe than we would otherwise be able to do, thereby maximising the solar opportunities and FiT benefits available to our investors.”
A nominee in the advisory firm of the year category is Altium, whose Energy, Waste and Renewables team “is the strongest contender because over recent years it has a sustained high level of activity, completed an incredibly broad range of transactions types, which cross a wide range of business and technology areas, all undertaken during some of the toughest years for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and fundraisings.”
Peter Darwell, chairman of renewable energy project manager, Eco2, is up for an individual award in the entrepreneur of the year award.
“[Peter] has founded no fewer than four different renewable energy businesses. These include Eco2, the biomass pioneer that in 2011 put together a deal for the UK’s first bank-financed biomass plant for twelve years. Eco2 also made the largest commercial deal in Wales in 2010, by selling its 37.5MW wind farm project. Peter’s most recent venture is a small wind business, Kinetica Energy, which aims to erect 6,000 sub 500kW turbines in the coming years, transforming the small wind industry.
“Throughout his career, Peter has balanced the development of several hundred MW of renewable energy with investment in tidal power technology, which he believes will fuel the next generation of growth for the sector.”
The final firm in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s nominee taster is professional services network, Grant Thornton, which is in the advisory firm of the year category.
“At Grant Thornton we understand the need to contribute to the development of these agendas and over the past 12 months have developed major thought leadership, for example, around the Green Investment Bank, Sustainable Cities and the Green Deal. In the coming months, we expect to launch our Sustainable Businesses report which will look closely at whether sustainability is a key element of companies’ long term business models.”
So there you have it. We hope your appetite for innovation is considerably whetted. Ours sure is.
Visit the event website, and check our site on Friday for a rundown of the winners in each category, but in the meantime, why not read our new report, The Rise of Renewable Energy, to find out why celebrating all of these companies and individuals is so important.
We also recommend that you visit Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity provider, to see how you can convert your own home to clean power.