The king of oil bets on batteries for a green world
LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Alex Beard is losing his thirst for oil.
Once one of the world’s most powerful oil traders, the former Glencore (GLEN.L) executive is now raising money to build a portfolio of strategic battery sites across the United Kingdom to support the renewable energy industry.
In his first interview since leaving the commodities giant in 2019, billionaire Beard said his Adaptogen Capital investment fund planned to build storage with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts (MW) to power homes when grid supplies fall short.
In his heyday at Glencore, Beard’s team was trading as much as 7% of the world’s oil. The fact he is turning to infrastructure to support renewables is another sign of the way the wind is blowing for the global energy industry.
“I have time for a second career in energy markets. It won’t be oil and gas but it will be the transition away from carbon that will be most relevant for the next 25 years,” he told Reuters at his offices off Regent Street in London.
Adaptogen Capital’s fund raising drive comes at a time when the United Kingdom’s energy industry is facing one of its worst crises for decades. A perfect storm of low gas supplies globally has sent prices surging while wind and nuclear power have been unable to take up the slack.
“The current crisis gives you a taste of what we will be experiencing more and more often,” said Beard, who is 54. “Batteries provide you with stability when the grid becomes unstable and are key enabling assets in the energy transition.”
As economies move away from fossil fuels, power grids are becoming increasingly important and governments and companies are looking at how to make them more resilient to avoid the supply outages and price volatility that have plagued networks from China to California in the past year.