‘Working in the energy sector wasn’t a career I planned on but at the age of 23, and after spending five years in the Army, I found myself working in the industry. Now, I’m helping businesses to radically overhaul their energy and sustainability strategies.’
Jonathan ‘Jonno’ Anstey is the Head of Sustainability Partnerships for True and as part of the ChangeMaker initiative, the jargon-busting boss has shared insights on the state of the UK sustainability and renewables sector as well as advice for businesses targeting a net zero future.
JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...
Surprisingly, before talking about his professional background or more recent success in the sustainability sector, Anstey admits to lacking any ambitions to change the world whilst growing up...Not exactly ChangeMaker material you may think, but stick with us (him).
“I had no idea what I was going to do as a teenager and I didn’t go to university, which may be surprising to some, considering the position I’m now in.”
After completing his studies, and without any clear direction, the most obvious choice for the academically successful youngster was (somehow) the British Army.
“It probably wasn’t the best idea! I realised pretty quickly that the Army wouldn’t represent my long-term future, so I left at the age of 23. I shared barracks with Prince Harry and learned a lot of valuable lessons, but it wasn’t for me. After leaving, I fell into a sales role promoting a sustainability solution called ‘voltage optimisation’ and inadvertently that was my real starting point.”
“The salary was modest but the commission was very generous...I think I was able to put my competitive nature to good use and, through a combination of hard work, application and a little luck, I did very well in my early 20s.”
A different kind of role took Jonno further into the energy and sustainability sector and finally, the (LED) lightbulb “pinged on”.
“I was working to develop partnerships across the energy and sustainability sector and quickly realised the vital role it played in keeping the country moving. If there are industries that are recession and technology proof, its hairdressers, undertakers and energy providers...”
“I connected with a lot of energy technology and solution providers and learned about the complexities of installing large-scale solar and wind farms as well as other technologies that were helping businesses to generate their own power, reduce emissions and save money in the long term.”
Having finally found his feet in the sustainability sector, Anstey proceeded to find an ideal role with Open Energy Market (True) as the Head of Sustainability Partnerships.
“I now support businesses all over the UK and across a range of industries with sustainable transformation. That can mean a lot of different things as each business and market is completely different, but the most important part of the job is understanding which solutions are going to provide the best returns on investment in sustainable technology.”
“Unfortunately, I regularly connect with businesses that have made poor investments in technology in the past that is completely wrong for their needs, and they’re stuck with paying for hardware that doesn’t save them money or generate renewable power adequately. However, we pride ourselves on being able to turn those projects around and I will often take on problem projects because there might be a business owner who may never try to make a sustainable change again.”
“I want to prove to people that major results can be achieved by implementing specific changes and investing in the right tools and technology.”
One of the most recent projects Anstey has completed involves Oakland International, a food manufacturing and distribution business that made a number of sweeping changes based on the support of Jonno and the True team.
“I think it’s critically important for a business to make changes that help it run more efficiently and more sustainably but it’s equally important to work with people who know what they are doing and how to get the most out of investments. That is one of the fundamental pillars of True and it’s fantastic to see so many businesses save so much money and generate so much green energy as a result of working with us and our platform.”
The Requirement for Change
When it comes to achieving net zero and what is required for the UK to be successful in hitting its legally binding climate targets, Anstey has a clear message.
“Central government should provide greater incentive to help organisations, and individuals, to accelerate towards lower carbon technologies. The biggest carrot and stick is somebody’s bottom line (or wallet), so I think there should be greater tax incentives and subsidies to push things along.”
“We’ve already seen tremendous success with the rise of electric vehicles, which have benefitted from schemes such as the Salary Sacrifice Car Scheme. There are low emission zones, congestion charges and all kinds of discounts for drivers of EVs and that has massively (excuse the pun) driven the jump from petrol and diesel to electric.”
“I think the same model should be applied across the board for all of these technologies and tax breaks will only make it easier for businesses and individuals to make the decision to invest in green tech.”
However, there are a number of existing schemes and initiatives that businesses can access to make sustainable investments easier and more affordable, an area that Anstey specialises in. Power Purchase Agreements represent one mechanism that businesses can take advantage of and, in effect, have their sustainable technology paid for by somebody else.
A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is a legally binding contract between a buyer (often an electricity consumer or utility) and a seller (usually a power producer or renewable energy developer or investor). In a PPA, the buyer commits to purchasing a specified quantity of electricity over a defined period at an agreed-upon price, often for a fixed duration of several years or even decades.
PPAs provide revenue certainty for project developers, making it easier for them to secure financing, while buyers gain access to a stable, often predictable source of electricity. The terms of a PPA can vary widely, including the pricing structure, the duration of the agreement, and other relevant terms, depending on the specific needs and goals of both parties.
The only difficulty is the negotiation of a PPA, which can be complex for business to manage alone. But that’s exactly where Jonno’s ChangeMaker chops come in.
“A PPA is a win-win for a business because electricity can be bought at a significantly cheaper price (as it’s generated onsite, local to the demand) compared to importing power from the grid because the multitude of taxes and charges that are levied on grid power do not apply in this scenario. We’re saving businesses a lot of money while also reducing carbon emissions, increasing grid resilience and energy independence and building new renewable power generation assets for the future.”
“Making these solutions more attainable is how I make a difference.”
Education is vital when it comes to schemes such as PPA’s but there are a range of other topics that sustainability professionals, and businesses alike, are unaware of.
Once more, up steps Mr Anstey...
A True Approach to Net Zero
One of the fastest and most effective ways of approaching the sustainable transformation of a business is to get clarity on precise energy consumption levels and carbon emissions. Once this can be measured, changes can be made to reduce energy use. However, accessing this information is not easy and it can take several days to get a view of raw data.
This process makes it difficult for sustainability professionals to make change and see where their green investments are having an impact. Until now.
“We’re really proud of True and the results it has delivered for our customers. It’s a tool that the industry has been crying out for because it makes energy consumption and carbon emissions data instantly available and simple to understand. We use the tool to connect all kinds of systems, so that a sustainability manager or energy procurement professional can see how much power their solar panels are generating and how much they are saving.”
“Our full network of technology providers are also accessible through the platform and you can run tendering processes with ease as myself or my colleague Otto Terrell will support you along the way. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for businesses looking to reduce carbon emissions, energy consumption and costs.”
You can get started with True for free, here.
Connect with Jonno, here.
Are you a sustainability expert working to drive change across your organisation?
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