Five minutes with Andrew Luers at Habitat Energy

This week we interviewed Andrew Luers, Co-founder and CEO of Habitat Energy.

Did you know we’re getting a green energy superhub in Oxford? That’s thanks to new kid on-the-block, Habitat Energy, who have just moved into our Oxford Centre for Innovation on New Road. Funded by Innovate UK to the tune of £10.26m, the project will see 50MW of batteries – the size of shipping containers – installed on a site in Cowley and connected to the Blackberry Lane substation. As well as a battery superhub, the scheme will include 4500 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford, enabling the electrification of transport in the area and the City Council’s own fleet. Not only that, it will power heat pumps to provide a low carbon heat network for social housing to help drive electricity bills and usage down. The Energy Superhub Oxford, or ESO as it’s known, is a collaboration between Habitat Energy, Pivot Power, redT, Kensa, the University of Oxford and Oxford City Council. The scheme will mean a COsaving of 20,000 tonnes per year by 2021 and an incredible 44,000 tonnes per year by 2032, supporting Oxford’s ambition to introduce the world’s first zero emission zone.

These super-sized batteries enable the storage of renewable or ‘green energy’. Using Habitat’s pioneering ‘intelligent trading’ software, PowerIQ, the energy stored can be sold to the grid when demand is higher and bought from the grid when most cost effective. Traditionally flexibility on the grid has been provided by manually-operated carbon-emitting assets but the company’s software allows batteries to operate in wholesale energy markets to buy and sell in the short term. In other words, Habitat Energy’s technology helps the grid to be flexible and balance out the more intermittent energy supplied by renewables.

Not only have Habitat developed the intelligent trading software but they also have the expertise in battery technology so that they can manage and extend the life of battery storage. The third aspect of their business is accurately forecasting the energy markets. It is these three strands of expertise that make Habitat Energy a market leader in its field.

With a PhD in physics from the University of Oxford under his belt, Andrew went on to work in utilities in the UK and the US, mainly with the Boston Consulting Group. He then set up a software and data company serving the UK healthcare industry before joining Phil Robinson, former Head of Commercial at Calon Energy, and Dr Ben Irons, ex-Director of Centrica Energy, to found Habitat Energy. They are mainly self-funded but with some income from angel investors and now a whopping grant from Innovate UK. Their vision is to deliver a low carbon future and the preservation of our habitat for years to come – hence the name.

The Energy Superhub is a game-changer for Oxford and demonstrates the impact that batteries can have on the grid. Habitat Energy is already replicating this model elsewhere and intends to expand significantly throughout the UK and beyond. We wish Habitat Energy the best of luck with the project for all our sakes.