May 30, 2024

Inside Octopus Energy’s deepening relationship with the UAE

The energy firm says it could soon have staff on the ground in the UAE.

Freya Pratty

4 min read

TAQA CEO Jasim Husain Thabet and Greg Jackson, founder of Octopus.

This article is part of a Sifted series exploring European tech’s relationship with the Gulf.

Octopus Energy had a big presence at COP28, the UN’s annual climate conference, in the UAE last year. Its CEO, Greg Jackson, took to the conference stage in Dubai while pink wind turbines adorned with the Octopus name whirring outside.

Octopus, which was founded in 2015, has quickly grown to become the UK’s second-largest energy supplier, surpassing many older firms. 

The company’s influence is growing outside of the UK too — and in the UAE in particular. In the last year, it’s secured several chunky deals in the country, which remains a significant oil and gas producer and is under increasing pressure to build a post-oil economy. 


“We see a lot of traction in the [energy] market, specifically from the UAE, for Octopus,” Husain Al Meer, from Emirati energy company Masdar — which signed a deal with Octopus — tells Sifted.

Octopus' COP28 wind turbines.

A 3,800km interconnector

Octopus’ first ties to the UAE came in April last year. 

The company invested £5m into Xlinks, a British startup that’s building a 3,800km interconnector cable to bring solar power from Morocco to the UK. Joining Octopus in the round was TAQA, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, which put £25m into Xlinks. 

Once completed, Xlinks says the interconnector could supply 8% of the UAE’s electricity. 

TAQA was already working on an interconnector cable project in the capital city, Abu Dhabi, and owns a large solar plant in the UAE too — expertise it can bring to the Xlinks project. 

For Octopus, the investment in Xlinks is a strategic one, (potentially) enabling it to increase the amount of green energy it supplies to customers. 

A deal with Masdar

In May last year, Octopus signed a deal with Masdar, an Emirati renewable energy company. 

Masdar was established by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment fund Mubadala and is now jointly owned by Mubadala, TAQA and ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s national oil company. Masdar invests in renewable energy projects around the world, including wind, solar and battery storage. 

TAQA owns 43% of Masdar – making the jump from Octopus’ co-investment with TAQA to a direct deal with Masdar a natural one. 

The deal sees Masdar use Octopus’ software, Kraken, which optimises batteries, smart grids and produces data on energy usage for retail customers.  

It plans to use Kraken to optimise how Arlington Energy, a UK-based battery storage company it bought in 2022,  stores and dispatches energy. Masdar has also said it will invest £1bn into the UK’s battery storage ecosystem – making Octopus’ deal with it a lucrative one.  

Jackson signs a deal with Masdar.

Masdar’s Al Meer says he was impressed by the energy firms that Octopus was working with, and says the cost of the product was good. That said, competition could be on the horizon. 

“We’re expecting more competition and more companies like Octopus to come,” Al Meer says. “We’re keeping our eyes open.”


An office in the Emirates?

In June last year, Dr Sultan Al Jaber — chairman of Masdar, head of ADNOC and president of COP28 — visited Octopus’ London HQ, further cementing the close links between the country and the company. 

At COP itself, Octopus announced a deal with TAQA enabling it to use Kraken for its power and water customers in the UAE, which will benefit from interactive data showing their energy and water use. 

The two companies are looking at a joint venture to extend Kraken’s footprint in the Middle East and Europe, an Octopus spokesperson told Sifted. 

As part of the joint venture, TAQA and Octopus are looking to establish a local hub in Abu Dhabi, Octopus tells Sifted. “We don’t have any staff yet in the UAE,” a spokesperson said, “but this may change should the Kraken innovation hub launch.”

Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly Climate Tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on X and LinkedIn