Kristina Rabecaite studied economics and statistics and the University of Westminster and from there joined Limejump, then a start-up specialising in technology to manage large renewable energy networks, where she won ‘Woman of the Year Award 2019’ at the Solar and Storage Awards and helped grow their renewable portfolio from 0 to over 1GW.
It was during that time that Kristina met the future investors in PPAYA, which she set up in 2021 to provide a continuous auction and management platform, connecting commercial energy purchasers with renewable energy generators.
We are going through an unprecedented energy crisis, how do you see this being resolved?
Spiralling energy costs are an inevitable consequence of our reliance on imported foreign fossil fuels that have been subject to enormous price rises. As import costs skyrocket, all ships rise with the tide and ordinary people are hit in the pocket. Only a managed transition to renewable energy will bring down bills in the long term which can be the route to solving these issues. However, it is important to proceed with caution. Renewable energy is in no way able to support us alone – we must increase our domestic battery storage capacity utilising a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy as we move through this transition – otherwise consumers will continue to suffer.
Do you feel the Government’s Energy Security Strategy released earlier this year does enough to address energy security and climate change?
I do not think the Energy Security Strategy went far enough at all. While it is positive that the government is at least on the face of it looking to put more faith in renewables, it is vital we invest not just in the technology but in the infrastructure. We have to go further to the cause of the issue.
We have done an appalling job of managing the transition away from fossil fuels in this country and should have done much more to make people realise what was at stake when we decided to effectively turn off oil, gas, nuclear etc. There has been too much pandering to unrealistic ambitions and not enough done on making the switch to green energy sustainable.
I found the government’s Energy Security Strategy underwhelming in this regard, particularly on onshore wind. I don’t think the strategy went far enough to support the industry and I felt the failure to back onshore wind was an example of decision makers caving to negative public pressure and refusing to stand up and make undoubtedly difficult but in the end essential decisions.
Consumers and organisations are facing record energy bills at present, with further increases on the way, what actions could individuals and/or organisations take to mitigate these costs?
I believe that the recent announcement from the Chief Executive of Ofgem that ‘bills will not rise for consumers amid plans to plough £20bn into upgrading Great Britain’s regional electricity networks’, is a welcome upgrade to a system desperately in need of modernisation and indeed his pledge that the consumers will not face further price hikes as a result is welcome news.
Nonetheless, Ofgem has still warned that it will raise the price cap of household bills to around £2,800, with some experts putting that figure at as much as £3,000. Billpayers may not feel the effects of this infrastructure upgrade, but bills are still unlikely to come down. There is still a great deal energy providers and government can do to bring down bills for consumers and ultimately, they must lead the way.
What advice would you give independent generators looking to secure the best price for their power, especially in current climates?
I would advise signing up to our platform to secure the best price for your PPA. PPAYA offers an innovative continuous auction and management platform, which is designed to maximise the value of your PPA and reduce the administrative burden which so often slows down the whole process. We pride ourselves on our user-friendly software, which makes setting up a tender stress free, as well as instantly showing our clients what prices they can expect to reach. Even on the most volatile days in the market, we can save them up to £2 per MWh, purely by giving suppliers an answer in under 15 minutes.
In your opinion, is the clean energy sector developing fast enough to achieve the various energy & climate-related targets, including Net Zero by 2050?
I believe that progress towards net-zero targets is essential however I think it is wise to be cautious. Renewable energy is by no means in a position to support us wholesale at this point. To put undue pressure on renewables could force a shortage of supply, a skyrocketing of bills and a loss of confidence in the whole industry. I believe a managed transition to renewables is the only sustainable course of action. Of course, the fundamental issue is that the infrastructure is simply not in place to facilitate a country solely reliant on renewable energy. We have serious progress to make before 2050 if we want to maintain this target.
What major change(s) to the renewable energy sector do you feel would really accelerate its progress?
Britain’s energy infrastructure will prevent any real progress unless comprehensively upgraded. Given the poor connectivity of the biggest onshore wind farms, mainly located in Scotland, to the major demand centres, the grid is simply not up to the task and becomes overwhelmed. Masses of cheap renewable energy is lost. Disappointingly, wind turbines are often producing more energy than the national grid can cope with – If we are going to truly make effective use of wind this must change.
I also believe the conversation should be much broader than just focusing on wind. Anaerobic digestion for example is a hugely impressive technology that is not subject to the seasonal or even day to day variations in generation that wind and solar are. Denmark sources 25% of its energy from biogas.
What are your views on nuclear?
I feel the government’s pledge to build a reactor a year until 2030 is a bold and potentially risky move. This is incredibly expensive, and it is hoped that by 2050 up to 24GW of electricity will come from that source – this would only amount to 25% of the projected electricity demand. This seems a hugely inefficient and costly way to service demand and not to mention it is a potentially volatile technology driven by foreign investment which could see us held to ransom further down the line.
How important is decarbonising rural infrastructure and how can farmers and landowners take the lead on creating a decentralised energy network?
10% of UK emissions are generated by agriculture so there is clearly work to be done to decarbonise. In my experience, UK farmers are doing so admirably and in diverse ways. Be that through solar, wind or anaerobic digestion. However, with the government no longer issuing FiTs, it has become harder for farmers to invest in their own small-scale renewables and make it economically viable. We cannot place such high expectations on an industry already struggling post-pandemic without offering support.
Is hydrogen the future?
I believe that hydrogen certainly has a part to play. We need to see more investment in hydrogen fuel cells for electric vehicles. Due to the increased proliferation of electric vehicles our electricity demand will only continue to go up. This may well result in a greater reliance on fossil fuels. Hydrogen offers an alternative technology to generate clean energy and a diverse and well-rounded energy network is the position to which we must progress.
What do you feel is the next big thing in the energy sector and why?
I believe anaerobic digestion has huge growth potential. We work with fantastic innovative farmers who are converting waste into clean, renewable energy. In Denmark 25% of electricity comes from AD and this shows us how much of an exciting growth area this can be.
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