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Episode 1 – Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy Solution


In this episode of Leading the Charge, Kevin Sturmer and Tim Doling discuss the transition to sustainable energy solutions. Tim shares his background and how he got involved in the industry. They talk about the journey of starting POWR2 and developing their product line. They also discuss how companies can start transitioning to sustainable energy and the industries that are well-suited for it. The emotional cycle of change and the importance of having a clear vision are highlighted. The episode concludes with a Q&A session on topics like weather effects on POWRBANKS, maintenance, and integration with diesel engines.


  • Switching to sustainable energy requires an open mind and a readiness to explore new technologies.
  • Construction and events are well-suited for sustainable energy solutions.
  • The emotional cycle of change is a normal process when adopting new technologies.
  • A clear vision and understanding of sustainable energy benefits help companies overcome transition challenges.

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Kevin Sturmer (0:02)

This is leading the charge where we talk innovation and insights in the industry of sustainable energy. Leading the Charge is brought to you by power to a global provider of energy storage solutions. Let’s simplify sustainability. And now from the power to studio, and broadcasting everywhere from leading the charge.io, here are your hosts, Tim Doling and Kevin Sturmer.

Welcome to leading the charge, where we talk battery energy storage, insights, innovation and the industry of sustainable energy. My name is Kevin and I work in the marketing department of a company called POWR2. With me today is Tim Doling, he is the Director of Innovation at POWR2. And if you keep asking, why are we saying POWR2, POWR2? Well, it’s spelled P O, W, R, and the number two and that’s the company we work for. And we are driven by a vision of a world powered by sustainable energy. And we are on a mission to partner with other companies who are trying to transfer or transition to a sustainable energy solution. And that transition, making that change and making that leap is what we’re going to talk about today on Leading the Charge. But before we get into all of that, I want to introduce and have you get to know our co host here, Tim Doling. He is by far one of the most experienced people I’ve talked to in this industry. We’d love to learn a little bit more about you, welcome, Tim, about your experience, your background, how did you get involved in all of this in this industry?

Tim Doling (1:34)

Yeah, thanks, Kevin. Very excited to be joining this podcast series and getting kicked off. And I really like the name Leading the Charge, because we’re really focused on moving forward with sustainability in this industry. So a little bit of history about myself. Since I left school, I’ve always been in and around the power rental industry. I started work in a UK company that was providing fuel storage tanks, based in the UK, but we are selling throughout the UK and Europe. And then in 2007, they started a US division. And in 2009, I moved to the US from the UK to support the building up and running of that company, as I say selling fuel storage tanks to the power rental industry. So whilst interacting with these companies that were renting power generation, I started hearing about these new EPA regulations that were enforcing limitations on diesel fuel emissions on off road engines. And they were enforcing a series of steps called tiers, or tier levels in the type of engines that could be used. And each tier as it got higher was reducing the number of emissions. And when it really became aware of it was about 2015. And it was when the highest tier tier four was starting to be implemented. And what I was hearing from the industry was that these tier four engines were really sensitive to low loads, they really didn’t like running at those low loads. And they started having breakdowns and things like that. So what some of the generator manufacturers were doing, we’re adding a load bank to the generator to put an artificial load on the generator so that it didn’t cause these problems. And to me, that didn’t really make sense, you’re trying to cut down emissions by increasing these regulations on emissions. But then at the same time, you’re adding an artificial load and running the generator hotter and burning more fuel and therefore creating more emissions that just didn’t make sense. So that made me think back to some things I’d seen in the UK in Europe and years gone by where people were using generators and batteries together as kind of a hybrid arrangement. So that at low load periods the batteries took the load and then when a higher load was required the generator started up and just ran at their optimal efficiency so no need for this onboard load bank that unnecessarily burnt fuel and created emissions. So while thinking about this, and knowing that it was widely used in Europe in the UK, I spoke to some my US clients about it and said look, this is an idea I’ve seen out there is it something that could be of interest to you? Mixed with, mixed sort of responses from from the clients but mostly positive. There was a few that they say is never going to work in this country like what they do in Europe is what they do in Europe but for the most part really positive responses and as people to this day that I really thank for giving me an ear and that set the stage for power to which I co founded with my partner Toby Nunn in 2018. And we’re just completing our fifth year in business and boy it’s been a real journey we can go into more later but the adoption of the product and the technology has really been quite stunning. So that’s a little bit background hopefully I don’t ramble too much but that’s where we’ve come from.

Kevin Sturmer 4:47

No we can’t leave it and we’ll go into more later we’re gonna go into that right now. What What was the journey what talk us through starting the company? What was that like for you and then progressing year We’re after year after year to where, you know, now we’re five years in at POWR2 wind of that entire product line. What does that look like?

Tim Doling 5:06
First of all understand that came out of an industry selling fuel tanks, right, so a fuel tank, essentially a square steel box, not much to it, no technology to it, no electric. So we’re starting to go into a world where most people have rented in power at my customers are renting power, I really knew nothing about power, like single phase, three phase, what voltages meant and all that type of thing. So very, very steep, uphill learning curve. So I sitting down as having conversations with my customers in the early days just sort of floating the idea out there. And they were hitting me with all sorts of questions, I had no idea what they meant, I just had to research and research and talk to people that were doing this in the UK. And so really where we started, we just bought a couple of units in from an existing manufacturer in the UK, and, and put them out in the field for people to try. And that was the start of the journey. And so people will try it, they will tell us what was working well, what wasn’t working things they would like to change. And that really laid the foundation for us to build a product, not just bring something in that we thought the customer needed, but actually build a product that was developed with with our customers in a partnership type of approach. So was market ready?

Kevin Sturmer 6:17
And then the journey. So as you’re progressing and growing, how did that go?

Tim Doling 6:20
Yeah, so it was, I have to admit to you, I thought it was going to be a slam dunk, I thought we’re going to come in and we’re going to just like, show this to people and you know, receive purchase orders not quite the way it worked. So the adoption was a lot slower than I thought it was going to be and totally understand it, the customers didn’t want any risk, they needed to understand the product and need to understand its longevity and how they would see return on their investment. So it took longer. And it was a more methodical if you say sort of initial adoption. But then once we got that initial traction, and the firewall started to turn, the growth has been explosive. But the journey? Yeah, it’s been it’s been an interesting one. You get some very, very high highs, and then you get some lows, and then you just move forward and you keep going.

Kevin Sturmer 7:15
Yeah, well, I mean, I will tell you when I I’m new, relatively new to this space. And when I first heard about it, I was like this is this seems like a no brainer. Why? You know, and so I totally understand what you were saying how you thought for sure – the minute people see this, they’re gonna they’re gonna be totally on board. But yeah, there’s an adaption there is there’s some risk involved, it takes a little bit of getting used to. And that’s why the transition is actually a little bit difficult. So to get back to what we’re talking about today, and the transition from if you’re running, you know, a generator a lot or things like that, transitioning to a sustainable energy solution. But somebody, somebody’s thinking about it today. It’s like, I know I should I kind of want to, what can they do today? Like, how can they start? What can they do to get started?

Tim Doling 8:01
Well, I always tell people is just just look at what you’re doing today with an open mind and see if there’s potential for new technology. And what does that really mean. So all of our clients who have fleets of generators, typically, they would have remote monitoring, so they can see how the generator is performing, they can see fuel levels, they can see other fluid levels, so they can monitor all that. So we say look at your remote monitoring systems, and look at any generators initially that are running 24 hours a day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if you’ve got some generators running in that way, what you’ll always find is the load is not consistently at where it needs to be to keep the generator running at its maximum efficiency. So if you look at that, and you can see generators that are running below their potential is their potential then to add in batteries to to iron out those peaks and troughs. So that’s just a really low risk for people to actually just look at the data and see if there’s potential. And then what we do at POWR2 is we try and simplify sustainability as one of our tagline simplify sustainability. So we try and take data that customers give us and say, yes, there’s potential or No, there’s not potential for batteries. Yes, it makes sense. Well, no, it doesn’t. So it’s no we don’t want that to be a risk. We don’t want to sugarcoat anything for them, we’ll tell them the pluses and the minuses for adding in energy storage to an existing system. And that’s just really easy ways for customers to look at it initially.

Kevin Sturmer 9:24
And other like specific industries who might want to reassess how they’re delivering power, what kind of industries are great are really well suited for sustainable energy?

Tim Doling 9:35
Yeah, we’ve really gone into a niche, maybe a niche within a niche. So we, we work primarily with construction and events. Typically, when we were initially looking we say anywhere where temporary powers us, so anywhere where diesel generators being used today could potentially be offset or supplemented by a battery energy storage system, but then we’ve wanted to go, like, pinpoint it a little bit further. So If we look at the construction industry, a very, very typical application is running a diesel generator on a jobsite trailer. And we know that that is suited really well to being supplemented by battery. So start there. And then we can look at other applications as we go wider. So is there other systems that are being run on a job site that are critical. So we talk about security cameras, fire alarms, safety, lighting, those types of things. So we focus in on some very good applications. And then we can go broader and look at other opportunities. Events is another one where we’ve seen some success. So just the whole aspect of being able to have emission free power, silent power, it’s really, really good for events. So that’s also been one of our markets.

Kevin Sturmer 10:47
There’s a huge advantage to running silent, simply because there are some times if you’re in a more of a urban setting, you might have noise ordinances or any any number of reasons or the PGA Golf Tour, for example, they might want something where you’re running quiet, you have to be very quiet during that but still need to power, a number of items, concession stands and things like that. So it’s very helpful. It’s a, it’s a great feature to have. And I know it can be scary. making that transition or that change. I know, one thing that always pops into my mind when I’m doing a change, whether it’s something like transitioning to sustainable energy, or really taking on a new project or taking on, you know, anything new. One thing that works for me is something called the Emotional Cycle of change that’s put out by these two guys, Don Kelly and Daryl Conner. And it’s, you will, you’ll see it on the on the screen if you’re watching on video or YouTube. But just to describe it, it’s like an upside down bell curve. And if you think about it in the upper left, it starts with a uninformed sort of Uninformed Optimism, where you just started, you said, hey, yeah, transitioning to sustainable energy, it’s a great idea, this is what we absolutely should do, we’re going to reduce our CO2 emissions. And but then you start to do a little research, and you go down the left side of that bell curve, and you’re into something called Informed Pessimism where you’re like, maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew it this might be, might be too much for for where we are in our company in our growth. And then you realize that there are so many options, you wind up at the bottom of that bell curve, and what is called the Valley of Despair. And this just do not know which way is up, you are so confused. And that is where someone like or a company like POWR2 can step in, and help and bring you back on the upside of that right hand curve. And that’s Informed Optimism, where you know, a solution is available, you start to see the end of the tunnel, or the light at the at the end of the tunnel. And it’s it’s that it’s knowing where you are in that process that I always find very helpful. And if you are in that Valley of Despair, finding someone like POWR2 where we can help not only see where you are, but define a vision of where you might go with a sustainable energy solution. So speaking of vision, that’s a super helpful thing. So Tim, can you talk a little bit about the vision of POWR2? And then also, how we might help a company clarify their vision of a sustainable energy solution?

Tim Doling 13:22
Yes. Good. Good question. And just to your curve analogy, I think the outcome, they’re really the goal is success and reward. And that’s what we’re trying to really focus our clients on is the success and the reward that this product or these products range can can bring to you. To your to your point about our goal at POWR2, we really see our vision as a world powered by sustainable energy. And we think that’s really as possible and bring it down to our industry, we can make it successful and rewarding for our clients. So we understand Change is hard, right? We’re in an industry that’s been around for a long time, lots of people have been in it for many, many years, much longer than I have even and they’re happy with the way they’re doing it. Why should they change me say may tend to look at new technology is a problem or potential for problems rather than what we tried to do and turn it around and show it as an opportunity for growth and opportunity to go into new markets and unlock new revenue opportunities. So once there’s a fear of an unknown, we just want to take the complexity out of it, and simplify sustainability and show that you know, a world powered by sustainability is possible. And it’s also possible for you to turn it into a revenue opportunity along the way.

Kevin Sturmer 14:45
Yeah, yeah. I will say that there’s a friend of mine once told me there are the five essential elements of change. And the first one is vision. So that’s what we’ve been talking about today. The second one is having that innovation or that creativity So that what you’re doing is not just status quo. The third one was to say, All right, we need an incentive for this change. So what’s going to motivate us and in the business world, that’s often that’s often money, saving time saving money, those kinds of things. But it can be that you’re making a better impact on the world. Or you can be motivated by your sustainable energy goals, or sustainable energy regulations, depending on where you are. So that might be a powerful motivator. But the fourth one is usually tricky. That’s having the resources. So understanding how much it’s going to cost, getting a clear handle on that, but also understanding that the ROI on something like a POWRBANK, comes very soon. So there’s that level. But once you get those in place, you get to make a plan. That’s the fifth part of it, you can see the clear path to that vision from where you are today, step by step by step all the way to realizing that vision. And again, like you said, realizing success in that transition to sustainable energy. A few questions, we want to close the show today, we get a lot of questions from potential customers, actually, our current customers, you know, depends on who we’re talking to. People have questions for us that and so we’re gonna close each episode with some some of the most popular questions and hopefully answer them for you, because we’re gonna guess that you probably have these questions, too. First question, Tim. How does hot or cold weather affect our POWRBANKS? So before you answer Hold on, I’m going to mention that we’re talking about POWRBANKS. And they’re spelled a little bit differently. So it’s P, O, W, R, B, A, N, K is how we were spelling POWRBANK. So if you like Google power bank with an E in there, you’re going to come up with a power strip for your computer, not what we’re talking about, really. So P O, W, R, B, A, N, K. So when we say POWRBANKS, that’s how it’s spelled. You’ll also see that in the show notes as well. But But again, the first question, how does hot or cold affect those POWRBANKS?

Tim Doling 16:58
He has a great question. So I would love that spelling, I’d almost forgotten the question for a second. Good question, because batteries often get a bad rap as far as reduced range on electric vehicles in cold weather, that type of thing. So our POWRBANKS do have a wide operating temperature range, making them suitable for a lot of different climates, we obviously are operating in many different geographies. So it is important that they can operate at different temperatures. So if there is a need for them to be operating in extreme cold, we do have a climate package that we offer in our canopies. And that comprises of a heater that allows the batteries to be warmed up and kept at a certain temperature. We do say, however, that batteries will generate their own heat as they’re cycling up and down. So as you’re discharging the battery, they’re going to be generating some of their own heat. And as a charging, backup, again, that type of thing. So that helps. But then just to offset that cold start type of thing, we do put a heater in the canopy. And again, for very warm weather we have we have fan assisted cooling, on some new iterations, we’re going to be having some actual AC units on the on the system so we can cope with hot and cold weather.

Kevin Sturmer 18:07
Fantastic. Great. It’s, I’m sure somebody’s out there. That’s a question that was in their, in their bag somewhere. So thank you for answering that. Next question. Are there any special tools required for maintenance, or troubleshooting repair? And while we’re there, like what’s the maintenance frequency, because it’s actually not as much as one might think so but but again, special tools and then get into the frequency.

Tim Doling 18:30
Not really any special tools. So there is power electronics involved in these because you have lithium ion batteries with battery management systems, then you have inverters with certain technology built in. So there’s a couple of connectors, you need to be able to connect your computer to the system and talk to it. So that’s really basic off the shelf stuff that we can supply, or you can even buy from Amazon. But the actual maintenance period on Paradise is really you know, there’s minimal maintenance, it’s not like a diesel engine where you have lots of moving parts, you have a battery, which is solid state, in a sense. And some inverters there’s no actual spinning or turning things or belts or anything like that. So it’s really just air filters that need to be changed. And generally just make sure the the nuts and bolts are kept tight on the the electrical fittings other than that they’re largely maintenance free, you’re not going to have any engine changes to worry about that type of thing.

Kevin Sturmer 19:23
And the last question, does POWR2, do the POWR2 power battery banks or POWRBANKs I guess they’re asking about do they come integrated with diesel engines?

Tim Doling 19:34
Typically not no. So we’ve come from the premise that our customers all have very large fleets of generators. So for us to build a generator into the power bank would really pigeonhole it to a certain size, whereas right now you can have a power bank and you can select from any number of diesel generators you have available in your yard and put them together and take them up to site. That’s not to say in the future if demand changes or so He wants us to we will not develop one with an onboard generator. And we are looking at some really interesting low emission technologies to pair with the power bank through some collaboration with other companies. So I’m not going to say it’s never going to happen. But right now we just focus on the batteries. We’re specialists in the batteries. We want to be the best in the world at the battery side of things. Other people’s good at the engines, they’ll do the engine part of it,

Kevin Sturmer 20:22
Good deal. All right. Well, thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. Tim, any final thoughts before we close out the show?

Tim Doling 20:29
No, no, it’s been a pleasure to be here. If anyone wants to connect with us on LinkedIn, see what we’re doing, we post some of our updates there. And we’ll look forward to the next one.

Kevin Sturmer 20:39
That will drop all those links in the show notes. And thank you for joining us today. And if you want to learn more about what we’ve talked about today, again, check the show notes. We got links in there, or you can go to LeadingTheCharge.io. Again, that’s LeadingTheCharge.io. That’s our website. It’ll take you to a page with all the episodes that we have for this podcast. And then lastly, we know your time is valuable and we appreciate you spending even just a little bit of that time with us. So let’s work together. We’ll simplify sustainability and we’ll keep leading the charge towards a world powered by sustainable energy. See you next time