IT IS hailed as the energy revolution that will enable clean, green affordable electricity on a global scale.

The physics, engineering, and business experts behind the plan not only paid homage to one of the world's greatest scientists but also raised the bar of achievement by taking his name for the project prompted by blackouts and high cost electricity in Australia.

"At Faraday we're designing the energy system of the future.

“We believe that our technology as an enabling platform can have a truly transformative global impact," says co-founder Matthew Williams.

Mr Williams and the development team moved from Australia to Scotland to form the firm in 2016, homing in on the academic, scientific and engineering talent base.

The firm has around 200 people across its innovation centres and hubs in Edinburgh, US, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Australia, and by the end of the year estimates there will be about 1,000 specialists in systems design, engineering, innovation and AI as well as non-technical experts on board.

The Faraday Grid has raised approximately £40 million across several funding rounds and earlier this year announced that Adam Neumann, co-founder of global office company WeWork, made a £25m investment in the company. There are plans to undertake another capital raise, also this year.

READ MORE: Scots firm in link-up to energy council

The technology, first tested in Glasgow, centres on the Faraday Exchanger, a new type of router replacement that can temper the flow of power at an individual point or be used alongside others to enhance a wider grid.

This model makes the equipment affordable and the idea achievable, he says.

"In essence, the energy system is changing, so we know that we changed the way we're generating energy moving away from these large fossil fuel plants and hub-and-spoke model to distribute variable energy as well.

"So, we are changing the way we use energy, we've got more electric vehicles, a lot more digital consumption."


"But", Mr Williams, above, said, "the grid that connects all of these things together, all of these endpoints, hasn't fundamentally changed in over 100 years.

"The basis is still poles, wires, transformers and as the systems get more complex what we're doing (now) is we're adding more and more technology into the system to try and counteract the issues that we're experiencing as it grows.

"So, we see our technology as a platform to enable us to have this future that we want where we can have more renewable energy, we can have electric vehicles and we're able to deliver all of these things whilst maintaining the reliability of the grid.

"We want it to be green, be clean, that's really important for the environment and it's really important that energy stays cheap as well.

"The challenge that in one sense we're facing, I think it was coined by the World Energy Council, the 'energy trilemma', which is how do you have affordable, reliable and decarbonised energy systems.

"Faraday Grid is an important part of that.

"Our technology provides a new base layer for the energy system, so we still need the same poles and wires, we've got such a large system that we can't redo it from scratch."

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He says: "But we make it more flexible, more robust, so we can do all of these things in the future.

"So we can have more renewables, we can have all these different technologies come on, which, at the moment, they're unable to deliver as much value as they could because the electricity grid itself is an old, passive, rigid system.

"Faraday Grid turns their old system into something a lot smarter and more flexible."

He compares the upgrade of the world electrical energy system to evolution of telephony.

"It can bring affordable electricity to areas that might have struggled to maintain infrastructure and balance energy production and provision.

"I always think of it like we have the old telephone system, which was copper wires and telephone switches and we were able to replace those switches with routers, and all of a sudden those same copper wires became the internet."

He said: "It is similar. We have this old electricity grid and we're able to replace existing devices within the electricity grid, in this case transformers, with Faraday Exchangers, which are like the router for the internet of electricity.

"We can literally take out one single transformer which needs to be replaced anyway.

"They are reaching end of life and we can put in one Faraday Exchanger, which can do everything a transformer does, but it does so much more.

"It's able to control the voltage, remove all the noise from the signal.

"We can control the power factor to balance across all these phases and we do it all within a single device.

"All of a sudden you're not having to add all this extra complexity into the network and you get this really nice platform that enables double the amount of renewable energy onto the system.

"It reduces losses, it makes everything more flexible, more resilient and I see it is an enabling technology."

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Mr Williams said: "We come in and our technology helps deal with the physics and economics in the short-term volatility of renewables.

"But it also provides a platform for other technologies whether it be storage, batteries or fly-wheels, or whatever we end up using, all these things can work in collaboration with Faraday Grid to solve the bigger picture to really enable this energy future that we all want."

The company aims to be at full commercial status within two years.

"It was one of the key designs considerations when we started working on this many years ago, is that we needed a system that was going to give us this future but it had to be achievable as well.

"We had to have a pathway that we could afford to actually do and one that was going to technically allow us to get to the right endpoint.

"So, that's why one of the major things was how do we do this transition, and that's why a Faraday Exchanger is designed to be a drop-in replacer where a transformer would traditionally be located because we know that there's already a capital replacement schedule in place for those out there."

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He said: "You don't need to replace everything all at once and suddenly switch over to this new system.

"A Faraday Exchanger can literally be dropped into the existing network and it immediately adds value in its local area.

"It resolves the problems of noise in the system and voltage control and these things.

"But then as you start putting multiple exchangers within a grid, they start collaborating and coordinating to form a Faraday Grid and the value that Faraday Grid delivers as a system, rather than those individual devices, is much better than any individual device can give by itself.

"One of the key constraints is what we can afford to do. It needs to be achievable, so again it's designed in such a way that with existing capital replacement budgets that utilities already have, you can roll out Faraday Grid.

"Instead of buying transformers and all this other equipment, they're able to just buy Faraday Exchangers instead.

"But because with Faraday Grid the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, what we actually do with utilities is work very close with them and we simulate the entirety of their network,

"We look at their whole network, we can look at how power's generated and used at the moment, what they expect to happen in the future and not only can we then in the virtual world determine what that grid should look like in 10, 20, 30 years' time with them, we can actually also then start to look at the economics of it and say well, if you stay within your existing capital budget, this would be when you would target putting in the first devices because they're going to have the biggest benefit.


"But if you wanted to expedite roll-out to get things faster, it would deliver these additional benefits. You then wouldn't be so dependent on the balancing services.

"A Faraday Grid is able to provide that balancing service from the grid itself, rather than having to procure it from external parties.

"So whilst we're making the grid more flexible and having more renewables, we're also reducing the cost of energy to the consumer.

"We're still pre-commercial with the technology at the moment.

"We've manufactured devices, we've had external testing through our power networks demonstration centre in Glasgow.

"We're on the pathway to our next stage as a business is doing what I would call proof of concept projects with utilities.

"We've targeted utilities as our first pathway into the market because the network effect of operating within the grid allows us to have a real multiplier effect and it's where we can add the most value.

"So we will work with a number of utilities globally to do these projects over the next year or two and on the back of that we will be a full commercial business.

"It's tremendously exciting. Scotland has been a great place for us as a business. There's great talent both in Scotland and Scotland's obviously being very open as a country has enabled us to attract talent from across Europe as well.

"It's at the forefront of all renewables and pushing the boundaries and quite innovative. So it's been a fantastic place for a business like us. But then very similar to Australia.

“It's going to be quite collaborative because, as an engineer I would say physics is everywhere.

"Our technology is ubiquitous, we want to be able to deliver the value that we have to the world.

"Scotland and the UK is very important, but we also want to be able to add value in Europe and North America and Australia and Japan and these key markets. In order to do that we need to grow very quickly as a business.

"So we have established innovation centres, it's set in Scotland and then in Washington DC and now in Czech Republic as well and that's just to enable us to have the right skills and resources to be able to deliver globally.

"We have plans to open additional centres as well. We've grown over the last couple of years from just the founders to reach a couple of hundred people globally now.

"We're calculating by the end of the year having a thousand people, and then growing from there.

"From a business perspective the next steps are also the projects to demonstrate the technology in real-world grids.

"We want to do this across different geographies in different types of regulatory markets with different technical use cases.

"One might be a really congested area, a major city, one might be where there's a lot of rooftop solar or a long radial line that has voltage control issues.

"We really want to demonstrate that the value that our technology can add over such a wide range of cases because ultimately we believe that access to reliable, affordable and clean energy is really one of the most critical issues facing society in a sense.

"We can't focus just on having clean and reliable without having affordable energy as well, and Faraday Grid as a platform is about enabling all three of those at the same time.”

Setting in Edinburgh three years ago allowed the founders "to take advantage of Scotland’s world-class engineering heritage, have access to leading academic institutions and utilise the talent pool across the country".

However, the seed of the Faraday Grid idea started many years before this, and the founders say they have been working on solving the world’s biggest challenges throughout their careers.

The team says that in seeing issues with the Australian electricity grid – with claims of blackouts and regular energy price increases, which in some states were said to have doubled over the last 10 years – it became their vocation to “resolve the world’s fragile energy system”.

He added: "Michael Faraday was one of the most influential scientists in history and his inventions and discoveries have laid the foundation for the work we are doing, designing an energy infrastructure fit for the future.

“At Faraday Grid, with our mission to provide secure, sustainable and affordable energy for everyone, we stand on the shoulders of giants.”



What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

I enjoy the culture, history and architecture in European cities. For an Australian, walking among such beautiful settings is a real treat.

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

At the age of four I wanted to be on a Formula One team, but rather than being the driver, I longed after the pit lane and designing cars. I still love the mechanical and electrical precision that goes into it – the technology needs to be on point to go fast but the physical design is just beautiful; the fusion of science and art.

What was your biggest break in business?

The first live demonstration of our Faraday Exchanger at the National Museum of Scotland. After years of hard work, the discussions were no longer about “what if the technology works”, but rather how to enable it to add the most value.

What was your worst moment in business?

My previous engineering company was consulting on a major project opportunity, which after a year of speculative work did not go any further. It was a great disappointment at the time, but ended up being the best thing that ever happened – had it been successful, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get Faraday off the ground.

Who do you most admire and why?

Andy Grove, founder and CEO of Intel, widely credited as the man who laid the foundations for Silicon Valley. As Intel was losing market share, Grove brilliantly changed its entire business model and turned it into the world leaders they are now in under a year. Andy’s work not only defined technology as we know it, but set a new path for businesses, having created the modern OKR management style, fuelling organisations from Google to the Gates Foundation to change the world.

He valued diversity, encouraging the US to embrace the contribution of its immigrants. He knew that having the best minds is one thing, but one needs to take the right opportunity and enable them to have the best impact. His legacy is a true value multiplier that opened new doors for innovation in science and technology.

What book are you reading and what music are you listening to? What was the last film you saw?

Reading: The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz, founder of PayPal alongside Elon Musk, on how to deal with the difficult side of building competitive companies.

Music: Black Keys – my girlfriend’s favourite band and now mine.

Film: With all my travel, most of my movies are on international flights. One of the best recently has been RBG; a documentary on human rights champion and US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the notorious RBG.