How Caldera aims to make the most of the UK weather


James Macnaghten and Guy Winstanley talk to Martin Friel about their idea for storing heat generated by offshore wind.

The Independent |




We’ve caught up with Vijay Rathour, Head of the Digital Forensics Group at Grant Thornton, to find out how cybercrime has become the biggest global risk to businesses, what security options are available and why the best thing you can do is be prepared.
Since time immemorial, the British weather has been a cruel joke – the wind, the rain, the general but reliable misery of it all.


But could it be, in a world determined (at last) to eradicate carbon from energy production, that the source of misery for so many generations could actually drive an economic boom – one that could rival that of North Sea oil in the Seventies and Eighties?


That’s the view of James Macnaghten, CEO of Caldera, one of a number of companies seeking to tackle the “net-zero emissions by 2050” conundrum facing the UK.

“In the UK, we have lots of wind and solar generation – and much more planned – but as an island, we have very few cables connecting us to neighbouring countries,” he says.


He points out that the huge energy sector in Europe is seeking to decarbonise quickly – which potentially opens up opportunities for UK renewables, but only if we solve the energy storage or the cable connection problem. “

We have such good access to the North Sea, and we could become a major player in North Sea renewables if we build enough towers and blades – all of which delivers an amazing opportunity to create jobs,” he says.


“We could be world leaders in offshore wind, which would be a bigger boon than North Sea oil. Rather than making the transition to net zero a cost, it makes it a benefit.” However, without a solution to the problem of storing or “transporting” the excess renewable energy generated, the incentive to produce more wind or solar power is limited, potentially undermining the whole net-zero ambition.


Cambridge Cleantech member Caldera is one of a number of firms finding ways to meet the net – zero challenge

If any business owners are reading this and worried that they don’t have cyber security measures in place, what can they do right now to increase their protection?


Some of the most impactful things you can do to improve your cyber security are free. Multi-factor authentication – when you log into your email with your password but also get a code sent to your phone – is a quick and easy way to add a layer of security. Regular backups of your systems are useful but think about where you store those backups? Don’t stick them on an old computer in the corner as they’ll be vulnerable to a ransom if it happens – store them on a hard drive offsite and disconnected from the system to keep them safe. Examine your culture and training, make sure everyone is aware of the risks, and keep reminding them how to be safe online and, the fourth thing to do is test and consider changing your passwords.


You can take it a step further and hire a consultant or service like my team who will come in and conduct a cyber health assessment – these aren’t costly but are extremely useful. You can also pay for something called a penetration test, which will highlight all the weaknesses in the system. And of course, get a cyber insurance policy in place. It will be there as the safety net to help you recover from an attack.


The projected cost of hitting net zero is astronomical, with one estimate putting it at £450bn; coming off the back of a pandemic that has pushed government borrowing to £394bn, it’s starting to look like the sums just don’t – or can’t – add up.

We throw away 6 per cent of all energy generated by wind turbines, which is enough to heat 320,000 homes a year


The current solution favoured by the government to decarbonise home energy is the heat pump. The average cost of these is £5,000, but in order for them to be at their most effective, many homes in the UK may have to be retrofitted with insulation – which can send the cost soaring towards £20,000.


But Caldera thinks there is another way: one that could be cheaper to install, but also further incentivises the growth of the renewable energy sector in the UK. Asked to put it in simple terms, Macnaghten describes the unit – a heat battery – as “a big lump of material that we heat up with electricity when renewables are generating. That sits inside a vacuum vessel like a thermos flask to keep the heat in, and when the homeowner wants central heating and hot water, we use the heat from the unit.” Interested in hearing more? View the full article here.