MEN Exclusive: ‘Energy is being changed into a luxury’

UrbanChain boss Somayeh Taheri discusses green washing, creating jobs and going global

The part the rise in energy prices is playing to drive up the cost of living in the UK has not been far from the headlines over the last few weeks.

With numerous suppliers going bust recently and the energy cap set to be lifted in April, the strain on the finances of the public and businesses has never been greater.

However, one chief executive has said there is a solution and that it may not be too late to fix the “broken energy market”.

Somayeh Taheri founded Manchester-based UrbanChain in 2017 after years as an academic at the University of Manchester, Iran University of Science & Technology and Persian Gulf University.

The company, which the CEO says is the first commercialised peer-to-peer energy exchange, using blockchain and AI to “decouple” renewable energy from the wholesale market and reduce the volatility of prices.

In an exclusive interview with BusinessLive, Somayeh Taheri has revealed her plans to expand UrbanChain’s reach across the globe and help create jobs.

But she has warned that energy is being changed into a luxury and that action needs to be taken soon to tackle the growing unaffordability of prices.

Asked what the main aim of UrbanChain is, she said: “It’s about creating a unique and fair marketplace for renewables.

“I have been part of a number of research projects regarding fuel poverty, which means households can’t afford to keep their home warm enough.

“When working on climate change projects, I found that the market is broken.

“As a result of that, the market is changing energy into a luxury and therefore it is not affordable for everybody.

“We are using blockchain AI to fix the broken energy market and make energy affordable.

“The market is very reliant on gas – these days it’s a hot topic about the price of gas going up and how it has impacted suppliers and consumers but we never talk about businesses and how much they have to pay. Businesses have to pay significantly higher rates than expected.

“Even renewables are subject to the gas price. That’s because the people who are bringing renewable energy are trading it to the gas markets and then buying amounts back.

“It’s then green washed with the green certificate. That action is making renewable energy subject to the gas price and the consumer has to pay for it.

“In addition to unaffordability and linking to the gas, when the price is very volatile governments step in to introduce levies for green energy.

“But the consumer has to pay for the levy to make green energy more investable.”

To read the full Business Live interview with Jon Robinson click here.