New analysis shows that primary and secondary schools in London will now face an annual £85 million energy bill. With the cost of living crisis showing no signs of abating, technology company UrbanChain says it can help schools to deal with the imminent rise in energy provision. Dr Mo Hajhashem, CCO of Manchester-based UrbanChain, answers some questions related to the topic.
How can UrbanChain help schools set to be hit with soaring energy bills from April onwards?
The reports that have come out are predicting that energy bills will hit schools in London at a rate of £80 for every pupil. This is clearly unsustainable, unmanageable and deeply worrying for all schools in the UK.
There is however a solution to this problem. We run a unique energy market just for renewables where participants buy and sell green energy amongst themselves. It’s called the peer-to-peer (P2P) energy exchange.
Put simply, we connect generators of renewable energy with consumers. Consumers might be businesses, organisations, households, hospitals or schools for example.
How then will schools lower their energy bills if they join your trading platform?
First of all it’s important to mention that schools’ energy bills are capped under the energy bill relief scheme until the end of March 2023. A new scheme will come into play in April but it is a less generous discount scheme.
We have many clients from the private and public sectors enrolled in UrbanChain’s P2P energy exchange. All of them are receiving clean and green energy that is hyper-local and cheaper.
Through the capabilities of our AI and blockchain technologies we reduce prices, search cost, commodity and non-commodity costs. As a result the whole cost of energy provision significantly goes down.
Do you believe the energy bill relief scheme from April onwards should be more generous?
We don’t want to be involved in political matters. But what we will say is that energy bill relief schemes can’t always be in place. This in itself is not sustainable and would hurt the wider economy and the people of the UK in other ways further down the line.
We have read that some schools are asking for help to buy equipment for instance. This is a sad situation and no one wants this to be the case.
This all however comes back to the broken inefficient UK energy market model that has for too long stayed the same. When we founded UrbanChain in 2017 our mission was to alleviate poverty in the UK and to fix the broken inefficient UK energy market model.
We won’t deviate from this. The solutions we provide are proven on a day-to-day basis as we continue to disrupt the energy market by reducing energy bill prices for businesses and households, making renewables viable without government subsidies – all while enabling consumers to achieve NetZero targets.
So, UrbanChain offers cost stability to any entity that joins our P2P energy exchange?
Yes. The analysis reported on has come from the Liberal Democrats. It found that the average London primary school will see energy bills support cut by £55.62 per pupil per year. For secondary schools the number is £80.42 per pupil per year.
A firm example we can demonstrate is UrbanChain’s partnership with West Suffolk Council and GridDuck, which has brought 50 businesses into the P2P energy exchange market at Milden Hall Industrial Park.
UrbanChain’s P2P system offers £280/MWh to the businesses located at the Mildenhall Estate; whereas the electricity rate for businesses prior to that was around £450/MWh.
This particular energy trading project is facilitated by hyper-local generators of renewable energy being part of the P2P energy exchange.
With reports revealing that some schools will face a quadruple rise in energy costs annually, can schools soon be onboarded to the P2P energy exchange?
Yes as we have high levels of renewable energy generation within the P2P energy exchange.
There’s no doubt that from an economic and social perspective these are very challenging times.
But UrbanChain’s drive to make energy decarbonised, digitalised, and decentralised is a key factor in bringing transparency and traceability to the energy supply chain. It’s done via a safe and unique energy market just for renewables.
Where does safety and security of energy provision rank in your priorities?
It’s of the utmost priority. We are solving a number of problems. One of these being that generators of renewable energy have no need whatsoever to sell to the intermediaries in the supply chain.
The intermediaries then have no need whatsoever to sell the energy to the wholesale market, then buy it back, or go through layers and layers of unnecessary bureaucracy.
UrbanChain’s technology has enabled us to remove all of this while maintaining the security of energy provision. It simplifies the complexities that have existed in the energy market for too long.