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Dr Marek Kubik has become a key figure in the global drive for sustainable energy, both during and after his time as a doctoral student at the University of Reading.

Aerial shot of an electricity substation

Today, Marek is leading the charge for renewable energy. His goal is to enable the UK's legally-binding target of net zero emissions by 2050 in his role as Market Director at Fluence Energy – a global leader in energy storage.

 

Marek has tallied up some impressive achievements, such as being honoured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which recognises future talent at a young age, in 2017. He remains as motivated as ever to push on in a sector he is passionate about.

So how did Marek get here?

Engineering runs in the Kubik family, and this, combined with his own "innate curiosity", laid out the pathway for Marek.

 

"I'm quite a structured and methodical person and like to know how things work – but engineering as a profession ran back a few generations.

 

"My Polish grandfather came to the UK after the Second World War and upskilled himself, eventually starting an engineering consultancy."

In pursuit of sustainability

After completing an engineering master's degree at Durham University, Marek looked to pursue doctoral studies. It was the University of Reading that met his desired criteria.

 

"My studies investigated the impact of high levels of variable or intermittent renewable generation (like wind power) on the operation of electricity grids. This led to proposing some of the solutions to help us on the pathway to 100% sustainable energy.

 

"Electricity is one of the most fundamental and universal technologies underpinning our entire society. Ensuring it is clean, reliable, accessible and affordable for all is about as noble and important a pursuit as I can think of!"

Why Reading?

As well as studying in the School of the Built Environment at Reading, Marek took advantage of the research and expertise in other academic departments within the University.

 

"I collaborated with multiple schools at Reading, including the world-class Department of Meteorology.

 

"This turned out to be very handy, as in order to assess the impact of high levels of renewables, I'd first have to simulate what that would look like from meteorological data."

 

In addition to his interdisciplinary work at the University, Marek spent significant time working with a range of external companies and attending conferences, which proved to be a valuable experience.

 

"I frequently worked on campus in the Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments (TSBE) centre, but also at the AES Corporation offices in London, and on a number of international assignments. 

 

"These included trips to power plants out in Spain, Bulgaria and Northern Ireland, to learn the ins and outs of conventional power plants and their limitations.

 

"I did a policy stint for several months in Westminster at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

 

"During my time at Reading, I was also lucky enough to publish about 12 conference and journal papers that took me to some very interesting international conferences!"

 

During his time as a student at Reading, Marek was given the support he needed to make his research as strong as it could be.

 

“I benefited from the support and guidance from my project supervisors, who made sure to test what I was producing and ensure it would meet the original contribution to knowledge criteria.

 

"I took some taught modules to build up my knowledge across a range of subjects related to the doctorate and of course access to the library and publication resources were all vital."

 

Doctoral students at Reading are encouraged to work together and support each other. This diverse, international community helps sculpt a positive and cohesive spirit in the School.

 

“Our cohort provided a real camaraderie and mutual support network. We all were going through similar challenges. I'm still in touch with many despite finishing over five years ago!”

Research catalyst

Marek's commitment as a doctoral student paid off. While his work in terms of renewable energy is by no means complete, he is particularly proud of how his doctoral work is making a difference.

 

“The achievement that I'm most proud of is seeing the research I completed become directly relevant and actionable to enable the rapid acceleration of renewable generation."

 

"My research led to the development of the first utility-scale commercial battery energy storage facility in Europe. It has served as a catalyst for massive energy storage growth that is vital for enabling the UK's legally-binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.

 

"From this initial 10MW energy storage project, there are now over 1,000MW of batteries operational in the UK.”

Industry insight

After completing his doctoral studies at Reading, Marek had a clear next career step lined up in industry.

 

“I went on to work for my industry sponsor AES Corporation, taking a direct report role to the President of their UK and Ireland business and informing their growth strategy.

 

"This led me to take the lead on building the investment case for a 10MW energy storage project – at that time one of the largest batteries in the world – which was completed in 2015.

 

"I then took a bit of a leap of faith and moved to Amsterdam to further establish and scale a business to sell energy storage technology to other developers, which – after a joint venture with Siemens at the end of 2017 – became known as Fluence.”

 

Currently, Marek is Market Director at Fluence Energy, a company which is a pioneer in energy storage technology.

 

“Fluence is an energy storage technology and services company. Put simply, we design, install and then guarantee the long-term performance of huge battery energy storage systems. These help integrate renewable energy to the grid and accelerate the pathway to a 100% sustainable energy system.

 

"We are the market leader at what we do, with over 2,000MW of projects already operational or in construction. As a founding member and director, I lead our regional team in the UK and Ireland, where we have a sizable fleet of projects."

Roots in Reading

After progressing from Reading, Marek was made a Visiting Fellow, which saw him continue to return to the University. He has also continued to co-author some academic publications.

 

Marek is now looking forward to helping create a more sustainable future for all of us. His doctoral studies have played an important role in his journey.

 

“If you can find the right balance between academia and industry, a doctorate is a real propellant to a successful career! My goal is now to get us to a 100% sustainable energy future as fast as possible.”

 

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