Make the UK the world’s next Silicon Valley?

Dr Somayeh Taheri, UrbanChain CEO, argues that this journey started years ago – but backs the ambition delivered during the 2022 Autumn Statement by the Chancellor

At UrbanChain we are often asked two questions.

What do you do?

What is the peer-to-peer energy exchange?

We’re five years into our journey as the only company in the UK that runs a unique energy market just for renewables.

While it can be frustrating to answer the same questions, we understand that disruptive technology can bring this to the fore.

And we accept that this is due to the complexities that have for too long shaped the UK’s retail energy market.

But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to continue to change the energy market for the better.

For the betterment of both businesses and household consumers.

Like many disruptive technology companies, we have been around for a while now.

Music to the ears for emerging technologies

So, while I believe that the Chancellor was right to have asked Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance to lead ‘new work on how we should change regulation to better support safe and fast introduction of new emerging technologies.

When I look at the whole ‘Turning Britain into the next Silicon Valley’ pledge, I can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment.

The energy market for instance could be in a stronger position than it is today had this pledge come sooner.

We at UrbanChain are one of the lucky ones. We’ve been supported and heavily funded by Innovate UK and Government bodies.

Trust has been placed in us and for that we are grateful. We are grateful because they know the truth of what we are doing and they know that it is the future of the energy market.

In a more broad sense – not just across the energy sector – true collaboration and flexibility must be encouraged and come forward.

And it must come forward fast if we are going to truly innovate and make people’s lives better.

The present and the future

It’s the present and the future that matters most, not the past.

So long as we learn from the past we can become stronger, individually and collectively.

The capabilities of UK tech and many companies yet to truly make the mark in the tech ecosystem are older than us.

The Silicon Valley pledge by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt should in theory drive forward more meaningful collaboration between the private and public sectors.

It should drive through innovation from fast and new technologies and therefore bring forward solutions to problems.

Just last week a £25 million public information campaign came to light.

Government ministers are said to be preparing this – to encourage people to reduce their energy bills.

It centres on, the Chancellor said, stopping Britain being “blackmailed” by President Putin.

People are to be asked to take showers instead of baths. To switch off radiators in empty rooms. To down boilers.

The long issue of rising energy bill prices doesn’t seem to be going away.

And not anytime soon.

Fast innovative technological solutions

Yet here we are.

UrbanChain exists to answer these very problems.

And we are answering it. But we want to answer it more by helping more businesses, more generators of renewable energy and more household consumers.

Through the capabilities of UrbanChain’s AI and blockchain technology, we reduce energy bill prices for businesses and households.

We do this by directly connecting renewable energy generators with those who consume energy.

We do this through the market we created for renewables, which is called the peer-to-peer energy exchange.

It is here that we decouple renewables from the wholesale market and manage intermittency with stronger techniques than others use.

We link renewables directly to end users, creating an environment where energy is being bought and sold at a fair price while achieving true net zero through true green energy.

We are not setting the price of renewables based on the wholesale price and have therefore an environment where energy consumers are not exposed to wholesale market price fluctuations.

This centres on the whole cost of energy provision going down significantly.

We want to see the UK become the next Silicon Valley and believe it can be achieved.

In order for us to get there though, there is a lot to do.