“I am quite a passionate person,” admits Scott McGregor (above) when discussing the global ramifications for his large scale energy storage technology redT energy storage, “but I try to keep that under wraps.”
This might sound like a curious disposition for someone at the head of ushering in what promises to be nothing short of an industrial revolution; why not crow about it, shout the amazingness from the rooftops for all to hear? Because as CEO and Founder of redT, Scott understands that having a business-first paradigm for something that also does good, means success will allow him to make a difference in the world, whereas turning that paradigm on its head might mean things not necessarily fostering the same result.
“The fact that redT’s technology is fully recyclable and is as green as can be, is not how I market the company,” explains Scott. “Half of our customers aren’t concerned about the environmental ramifications, they’re buying it because it’s going to make and save them money; the other half will be attached to the renewables aspect. Either way, it’s a win-win for all.”
So what exactly is redT?
‘Simply’ put, it’s a machine that stores energy in liquid form that never runs out and never degrades.
So it’s a battery?
No. Scott tries to ban the use of the term ‘battery’ and here is why: consider, if you will your cellphone battery – the more you use it, the faster it breaks down, right? In order to create something that circumvented this, Scott spent the past 15 years perfecting the first machine of its kind in the entire energy infrastructure sector that doesn’t wear out by using a resource based on vanadium redox flow battery technology.
What is that?
It’s super technical, but for our purposes, the liquid is 70% water with its main active component vanadium, which is the 23rd most available resource in the world. It’s a mineral. And there is plenty of it.
“It’s a long journey bringing an energy product to market,” says Scott with the smile of someone for whom the time to set his baby free has finally arrived. “We launched our proprietary energy storage technology in 2012 but decided not to sell it into the market yet; instead, we worked with Jabil – the world’s biggest manufacturer before bringing it to market in November 2016 at the cheapest price.”
A Gateway Technology
While redT is not a consumer device, it contains all the properties of having a substantial effect on sustainable energy overall. Renewable generation, i.e. solar and wind, can only go so far without storage. In countries like the United States, Australia and Japan, grids have become too busy to plug into and with no way to store energy, it disappears, unused, into the ether. Imagine if that energy could be stored for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing … we could then truly harness the power of our natural elements.
“Energy has been around for hundreds of years,” says Scott. “We have never been able to properly store it; we’ve produced it and then just burned through more and sent it on down the line. Until now.”
Off the Grid and Out of Government
And if you think the effects of on-grid countries are going to be substantial, the implications for off-grid places like Africa and the Caribbean, will be nothing short of revolutionary.
“There are 700 million people in Africa without regular power,” says Scott. “This technology will have an impact not just on climate change, but on the industrialization of all of those people. A lot of money has gone into building solar in Africa, putting batteries next to the grids, but two years later those batteries are dead and have to be replaced. These villages don’t have the money to buy more and even if they did, those new batteries are only going to last a few more years and need to be replaced again.”
Many countries have recognized that granting money to Africa in terms of aid is an unsustainable and politically unstable way to develop the country, they are now looking at investing in infrastructure; and that means energy.
“Developing Africa as a market is a perfect way to deploy finance while allowing the country to develop itself,” says Scott. “Governments can invest using debt, too – by providing loans to build solar and storage on mini-grids, they can earn money on the provision of that power.”
Additionally, redT has the potential to eliminate government where implementing renewables are concerned.
“Government has been instrumental to kicking off the renewables sector,” says Scott, “but we’re reaching a tipping point where it’s becoming less relevant. Solar is so cheap that it no longer requires subsidies. We’re seeing people buying solar and storage and saying ‘so long’ to the grid. We are going to need competition regulation to control the possibility of abnormal profits, but beyond that, the sector will no longer need to rely on (inefficient) government policies.”
Named one of “Financial Times” top 50 LGBT business leaders, Scott’s low-key demeanor belies his dedication to eradicating intolerance in some of the harshest parts of the world.
“I have been out most of my career with no fuss,” says Scott. “I’ve run businesses in Malaysia and Africa where I work and where homosexuality is illegal and it’s important to be a role model. The reach you have as a CEO to demonstrate the normalcy of whatever diversity group you’re from is imperative.”
As a married man (Scott and his husband have been together for 13 years) with one child and another on the way, Scott’s personal life, philanthropic activities and business acumen, all fall under the Australia phrase he references, ‘quiet achiever’.
“I am not sure if parity will happen in my lifetime, I think it will go forwards and backwards; we need to be realistic,” says Scott. “If redT works, it will be successful. I try to embrace it like a tough Australian … but the ‘tree-hugging’ aspect is why I wake in the morning. I think if you take a disciplined, aggressive approach to doing good, you can have a massive impact.”
By Deborah Stoll