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Sustainability Made Easy

By turning sustainability into a service, UrbanVolt make it easy for companies to rapidly & immediately reduce their carbon footprint.

As featured in The Public Sector Magazine Summer 2023, page 212

UrbanVolt are a clean energy partner that specialises in the provision of sustainable light and power.UrbanVoltoffertwo services – they upgrade industrial facilities with LED lighting and generate solar energy with zero upfront capital cost for its clients. UrbanVolt help clients reduce their reliance on fossil fuel energy and insulate themselves from the volatility of energy costs. Founded in 2015, with the goal of providing companies with access to energy efficient assets through the as a service model, UrbanVolt initially developed their Light as a Service (LaaS®)offering and has successfully completed installations for clients across 9 countries including the UK, USA & Germany. Following the success of the light as a service model (LaaS) and in response to growing demand from the market, UrbanVolt entered the commercial and industrial rooftop solar business through the introduction of its Solar as a Service(SOLaaS®) offering in early 2021. UrbanVolt is now the largest provider of commercial solar in Ireland, with 150 + commercial rooftop solar projects in 2022.

Clients availing of the company’s Solar as a Service model benefit from no upfront costs.UrbanVoltcoverthecostofthe design, installation, and all operational maintenance for the duration of the agreement. The client just pays for the energy produced on their roof as they use it. Meanwhile, clients of UrbanVolt’s Light as a Service offering have their industrial and commercial buildings retrofitted with LED efficient lighting for no upfront cost. The client then pays a monthly service fee to UrbanVolt for 5,7 or 10 years. Clients typically achieve a reduction in energy consumption of up 70% with UrbanVolt’s LED installations. “Our mission is to educate and inspire our clients to reduce their carbon footprint and accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future” says Kevin Maughan, founder and CEO, UrbanVolt.

Becoming Ireland’s first certified B Corporation in 2018 meant that we solidified our mission into the DNA of the company, and we consistently promise to try to do better.” UrbanVolt work with medium to large sized businesses who are seeking to reduce their energy costs and implement a renewable energy source. The company’s chief client base comprises heavy energy users in industries like manufacturing, hospitality, hospitals & pharmaceuticals, food & beverage and many more. “Our target market is business leaders who are looking to make a real, tangible change in their industries and who wish to begin their journey to energy independence,” says Maughan. “Each & every single business will benefit from implementing a renewable energy source. All companies will be protecting themselves and their future by starting the journey to energy independence.

“The team fully manage & install a quality installation and look after all maintenance for the duration of the agreement. “Furthermore, the client gets access to monitoring software which gives full transparency and visibility over the solar installation. A solar rate is locked in for the duration of the agreement with no volatility or change and of course the company reduces their carbon emissions. ”Because the costs for the solar installation are covered entirely by UrbanVolt, the benefits are immediate. In terms of cost savings, Maughan says that clients can typically achieve up to a 50% reduction in the cost of their energy versus current market rates. This varies from client to client depending on the current rates they are paying, the energy usage, the roof space available and their energy consumption. Light as a service customers generally achieve a 70% reduction in their energy consumption immediately after replacing their system with LED efficient lighting. On average – each UrbanVolt client saves c.189 metric tons of C02 annually.

However, the UrbanVolt model does not work for every size business and due to the capital-intensive nature of the as a service model, it typically makes sense for heavy energy users with a minimum roof space of approximately 10,000 square foot. Every solar system installed by UrbanVolt is bespoke and designed specifically for each building to cater to their specific energy needs. All projects are installed using Tier 1 Solar panels and the highest quality equipment. “As these systems are UrbanVolt’s revenue generator we are incentivised to only use the highest quality products to deliver our service,” says Maughan.

Among the recent projects UrbanVolt have installed is a 58.5 kWp system, with 130 solar panels on the roof and 1 inverter to convert the DC energy created on the roof to AC energy to be used by the business. Since its installation was completed in April of this year, this site has produced over 9.23 MWh of energy, saving 2.14 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. On the other scale, it has completed a 950 kWp system which consists of 2,112 solar panels and 7 inverters. Since its installation was completed in October 2022, it has produced over 240 MWh of energy, saving 114 tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Maughan is quick to dispel the common misconception which persists in Ireland that solar energy cannot be produced when the sun is not shining.

“Solar panels are so advanced they no longer need sunlight, just daylight to produce energy. Generally, on a typical clear, sunny day, the system’s power graph would form a bell curve with the highest energy production around noon, when the sunshine is greatest. “Contrast that with the power production on a cloudy day. As the sun’s rays make their way through rain and clouds, power production is still quite high. The amount of electricity generated is dependent on the density of cloud coverage. So yes, peak production will be on sunny days, but power is generated on cloudy days also.” Last year UrbanVolt raised €66 million in funding to roll out solar projects in Ireland which helped the company to become the largest provider of commercial solar in Ireland, with 150+ commercial rooftop solar projects in 2022. This growth trajectory has been supported through a 50% increase in the headcount which is expected to continue in the coming years.

“We expect to add another 250 commercial rooftop solar installations in 2023 and grow this to over 1,000 rooftop installations by the end of 2024,” Maughan says. “Being an innovative clean energy company means constantly looking ahead at future solutions for our clients. Whether that is advancing technology, a cutting-edge mobile app monitoring system for solar installations, new products – UrbanVolt is always looking ahead. Battery storage has been highlighted and is on our radar with expectation to launch this to existing clients in 2024. “The key challenge in the renewable sector will be cost of capital and Urbanvolt are strongly positioned to overcome this through benefits realised due to economies of scale and our evolving financial model. The main challenge is the delay in connecting these rooftop installations and being allowed to feed green energy into the grid.

“Our goal is to become Ireland’s largest producer of green energy from our diversified portfolio of solar virtual power plants. We see UrbanVolt becoming a solar utility company that competes with traditional energy providers to power Ireland’s businesses. “We are on a mission to help companies accelerate the transition to a sustainable future and our team is passionate about helping our clients reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.”