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Clean power to the people: innovating to make energy smart, secure and sustainable

If there is such a thing as a modern superhero these days, it is more likely to be someone working in energy innovation than a masked and caped Marvel vigilante.

As the world grapples with the threats of global climate change, worsening fuel poverty from soaring domestic electricity and gas bills, and the destabilising of energy supplies, working to improve everyone’s energy security and the sustainability of their supply offers a rewarding career.


Guilherme Castro is one such hero. Passionate about his role as projects innovation manager with Octopus Energy in London, he is as much a committed activist as a manager, just as ready to discuss the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) as smart grids and community energy projects. 

He cares deeply about making energy affordable, accessible, and sustainable for everyone and his role at Octopus gives him the perfect channel for that enthusiasm. It is the UK’s largest investor in solar energy generation, and it derives all its energy from 100% renewable sources like the sun, the wind and water. Octopus’s slogan is ‘doing energy better’ and that perfectly encapsulates Guilherme’s ambition. So, what does he do?

He explains: “Part of my daily routine is looking at how we can use solar energy to create more value for my customers. I’m not interested solely in putting our solar panels on their rooftops. We build relationships.

“We believe that if you can generate 10% or 20% more electricity than the customer will consume themselves then you’re helping the grid to become greener. That is my mandate; how can I find new business models that drive more value in renewable generation?”


Contrary to some expectations, Guilherme is not an engineer but comes from a civil service background. He believes that energy is about people as much as it is about technology or resources.

 “In my career, I pivoted from public sector to energy, so energy wasn’t my first call. Your skills are more important than your degree subject because you can transfer your skills. When you are establishing your career, don’t feel that your first decision is your final one.

 “My own expertise and background in energy is with solar and I have worked with community-owned solar plants. I like to see how the technology can have a beneficial socio-economic impact for consumers and companies.”


Guilherme loves a challenge and thrives on solving customers’ problems with innovative ideas. “Sometimes, I’ll have to create a new tariff that connects the generating asset to the customer. For example, a business may have more than one building but they can only have generation in one of them. So, I look at how we could connect all the buildings through a virtual wire. That is part of our business model – solving the challenges that the regulatory framework poses to us.”

Sustainable energy innovation is an exciting, fast-paced environment where change is constant. Guilherme gets a thrill from disrupting the traditional ways of doing business through technology, innovation, policy and data analytics.

“The energy system has a long supply chain from the generators to the consumer. But this is changing from linear to a more distributed and more connected model.

“It’s vital to understand the behaviour of both assets and people, commercially, to do it differently and better. When I look at projects, I ask myself, ‘how can I disrupt a market that has worked in a certain way for years and bring something different to the table?’ 

“My vision and my motivation is always developing a project that will benefit both the customers and the climate. So, whenever I’m helping to bring more renewable energy to life, I know I’m reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, and this is a big driver.”


Guilherme points out that sustainable energy goes beyond renewable energy. Renewable energy is generated from natural resources that are not limited, such as wind, water and solar, whereas sustainable energy goes beyond generation to take account of inclusive access for all customers to the energy system.

He says: “With sustainable energy you must consider how much you’re charging for power and consider how many people are in energy poverty. It’s not just a case of using wind power.

“We need to target sustainable energy for all. Renewable energy is just a piece of that puzzle. We work to guarantee sustainable energy by guaranteeing renewable energy for all.

“The sector is changing rapidly so it’s good to make yourself adaptable and resilient to the change. Today solar may be the winning technology but in two or three years it could be green hydrogen or a new technology that we don’t know about yet. This is exciting.”