“It’s an exciting time to be at SNRG. There is plenty to do”
Dan Nicholls is a man on a mission, one which began while at university, when he spent a year working for a sea turtle conservation charity in Greece.
“What started out as a bit of a life experience has proven to be one of the defining early moments in my career,” he admits.
“Since then, I have always wanted my career to be mission-driven, and climate change mitigation is that mission.”
Dan is playing his part in this vital process by overseeing the development of SmartGrids – and he is in no doubt about the importance of the role they will play.
“Against a backdrop of increasing energy prices and state support for energy bills, I think the SmartGrid concept of low cost, low carbon community-based energy has potential to transform the energy landscape in the UK and beyond,” he predicts.
It’s a huge undertaking, and a mission Dan is fully committed to. But of course, a healthy work-life balance is essential to be focused on such projects.
Dan grew up in Cornwall as one of six brothers. He now has a daughter, as well as a son, and spends most of his weekends standing on the touch line of a field, as both children are keen on sports.
Dan has his own skills outside of work. “I like to run, and play the drums. Both are good distractions from the challenges of a growing business, but I don’t do either as well as I’d like,” Dan says.
“I considered studying percussion at degree level during my late teens, but opted to study marine geography instead, on the basis that I would be more likely to get a job with the latter qualification.
“Rather than wonder what might have been, the challenge now is to become the Ringo Starr of the renewable energy world!”
It is clear to see that Dan gets a lot of satisfaction from his work.
“It’s an exciting time to be at SNRG, but there is plenty to do,” he says. “I’d like us to be the business that everyone thinks about when they talk about developing new net zero homes and business facilities.
“To get that point we all need to roll our sleeves up and make sure everything that we do is done to the best of our ability.
“We are a relatively new, but rapidly maturing business and I’m surrounded by some seriously capable and highly motivated people.
“My job is to help our team realise its potential, deliver the solutions that our clients need – helping to achieve my own mission in the process – and grow our business.
“The great thing about the current stage in SNRG’s evolution is that I get to work closely with everybody in the team, speak to our clients and work closely with our shareholders.”
That close community ethos is important moving forwards, as Dan explains.
“I am a big fan of globalisation – were it not for that outlook, I would never have felt comfortable going to live in Greece as a 20-year-old,” he says.
“However, it also makes sense to make the most of local resources and, in the energy space, this logic is as strong as anywhere.
“The further you transport energy, the more you lose along the way, and the more you are impacted by other people’s needs and demands.
“And, of course, the further you move energy, the more you harm the climate.
“SmartGrids generate energy locally, within a community, ensure that it is all used locally and that consumers of that energy benefit.
“It also reduces the impact on the distribution network, meaning we all have to pay less to fund the infrastructure that ships energy around the country.
“Solutions like these lead me to question why we are still building homes and business premises that are not Net Zero.”
It’s a valid question to ponder, but Dan is driving the revolution that will take us to that point.
“What we are doing is complex,” he continues. “At the community level, we combine energy generation with distribution and supply in a way that takes away the hassle for our clients and energy users – developers, homes and businesses.
“While that is a good thing to do, it means we have to understand all parts of the energy ecosystem and be able to integrate that understanding into a carefully designed solution.”
Dan admits that his days are never dull, and he likes it that way.
“It is genuinely exciting to be part of a business that is trying to push the boundaries in a way that benefits people and society, as well as our clients and shareholders.
“With the backing of our shareholders, Antin Infrastructure Partners and Centrica, we are well placed to achieve our goals.
“I see SNRG as a technology-agnostic integrator. The exciting thing about that is our solutions can work with new technologies as they emerge, particularly when they help to reduce carbon and cost for our consumers.”
Dan is confident of a brighter future. “Our standard offering today means that about half of the energy consumed each year by SmartGrid customers is generated by local renewable energy.
“As technologies emerge that allow us to produce more energy and store it in different ways, we may get to a point where our customers are no longer dependent on the wider grid for the majority of their energy needs.
“I am looking forward to seeing how far we can go.”
To contact Dan Nicholls, email firstname.lastname@example.org