Grid with green dots on on sections.

Tonik: helping you take the power back

Oct 5, 2017 - 4min read

We’re preparing our members for the new frontier of energy; a future in which consumers both own the grid and use it in a way that is truly sustainable. Our Managing Director, Chris Russell, explains why this is absolutely vital, ahead of his talk at WIRED Energy.

If Tonik’s sole aim was to be an energy supplier, I wouldn’t be sleeping very well. It’s no longer a sustainable model. We’re at a tipping point, and anyone who says they’re going to just sell energy ‘cheap as chips’ and hope they don’t run out is, frankly, putting their head in the sand.

The retail energy supply market is dying a slow and painful death. It doesn’t work for the consumer, the suppliers, the networks or the regulators. Suppliers are locked in a battle to lower costs and acquire profitable customers, while the grid comes under increasing strain, suffering larger and larger spikes in demand that will inevitably increase the cost of powering your home.

an energy supplier whose goal is to simply supply energy is in trouble

Meanwhile, the cost of renewables is falling dramatically and investment in renewables is soaring: Shell is turning petrol station forecourts electric; E.ON has split its renewable operations into an entirely separate company; Dong has renamed itself Ørsted to reflect it’s pure play renewable future; and all Volvo cars will have electric motors by 2019.

The writing’s on the wall, and for good reason. Yet although the needs of the energy ecosystem have changed drastically, the industry – and consumers – are still playing catch-up.

Tonik is fighting to change that. Cleaner, cheaper and less wasteful energy is absolutely deliverable today – and we’re delivering it in a way that makes life easier for our members.

It becomes a partnership model, the customer becomes part of the grid


We’ve talked before about building the home of the future, and how we are helping our members invest in the technologies – solar panels, battery storage, EV charging points – that will halve their bills by 2022. But as seismic as this would be on an individual level, it’s really just a glimpse of the bigger picture.

These tools are preparing our members for a future in which they take back control of the grid. By enabling households to generate and store energy, we are laying the foundations for the inevitable rise of the prosumer – the customer who is able to sell renewably generated energy back to the grid, balance the grid and rid the ecosystem of the diesel farm.

But why should consumers remain part of the grid at all, when the technology already exists to cut themselves off from the grid entirely? There are three reasons, and they all speak to the benefits of collective action over isolationist withdrawal:

Individually: those who remain part of the grid retain the ability to solve a wider problem, AND make money by selling energy to the grid.

Locally: generated energy means far less energy will be wasted in the process of distribution.

Nationally: a network in which every household has local generation and storage is far more easily balanced in real time, and – as a result – far less environmentally damaging.

The 54% of energy that is lost moving electricity from power stations to the home: eliminated by local generation and storage. The CO2 emissions from diesel generators and gas turbines that have to be switched on to deal with peak demand on the grid: eliminated by a grid that is balanced in real time. The strain that will be placed on the grid by increased demand from EVs that is just around the corner: eliminated by the increase in energy generated by prosumers.

The needs of the energy ecosystem have changed but the industry is still playing catch up


This is why any energy supplier whose goal is simply to ‘supply energy’ is in trouble; energy users are going to have far more control over their own supply. The role of the energy company of the future will shift from simply supplying energy to the more complex and technologically demanding role of balancing the supply on the grid effectively. The utilities that survive will be those that can make the relationship between people and their energy simpler, make the service reliable and automate it for optimal efficiency. Less hassle, lower cost, cleaner air.

Our members are part of that equation, and the net effect of this new relationship is reducing costs for the consumer, for the grid and the environment. It becomes a partnership model rather than the customer just receiving something from a supplier and the national grid. They become part of the grid.

It’s not a case of if, but when.

And I really hope other people are starting to feel the way I do – that I’m part of a wider, collective shift in attitude. Ten years ago I didn’t worry about this stuff – of course, having kids since then has played a part in shifting my viewpoint; I want them to breathe clean air, I want them to be able to afford energy in the future. But, over the last five years, my belief in the need for a sustainable solution has hardened. There is no plan B. The more I know, the clearer I am this is Plan A.

This is happening now, and anyone who wants to have a say in shaping the future needs to get involved and fight for the positive change that’s well within their power to deliver. It’s what Tonik Energy is doing. It’s what our members are doing and they are voting with their feet.

Chris Russell and Wired Energy