Exciting news! Within the next few months Brighton Energy Coop will launch our second project, which will add more than 400kw of new solar capacity to our current systems.
We’ll be doing it the same way as we did our first project last year – via a community share launch. That means that we will all get the chance to invest in renewables in our city, as well gaining a projected 6% return on investments made. Our existing members also stand to benefit, and we’re preparing a social fund which will help fuel-poor people in Brighton and Hove finance solar for their buildings.
This is an exciting time – as well as growing BEC dramatically, this is the second step on our journey towards wide-scale community ownership of renewable energy; over the next six months we’ll be raising more than 500k to fund it what will be the largest solar install in Sussex.
We are still in the preparatory stages of BEC2 at present, but to hear more detail come to the Brighton Eco-Technology Show next Saturday at 2pm where I’ll be giving a bit more detail of the new project and talking about what’s going to be happening over the next six months. To get in visit www.ecotechnologyshow.co.uk – Brighton Energy Co-op supporters can register for free by using the promotional code BEC170.
Meanwhile, our existing systems are – can you believe it – nearly a year old. Over the past 11 months they’ve generated more than 110,000kwh of electricity, earning the coop more than £18,000 along the way. On sunny days such as we’ve had over the past week or so, we’ll be generating more than 900kwh daily, and earning around £150 each day.
Our systems are producing well above our expected capacity – around 20% more in fact. Our largest system – Hove Enterprise Centre, 87kw, has provided more than 74,000 kwh to date and saved £3000 on the Centre’s electricity bills, while City Coast Church has benefited from 29,000KwH of electricity and saved just under £1500. This is just after one year – you can see that our panels are providing a significant benefit to their host sites, as well as tons of clean, green energy.
Of course it’s not always been like that. During summer we generated more than five times the electricity as the dog days of winter, as the chart on the right illustrates.
December and January are the least sunny (and hence productive) months of the year, just as this month and next will see our output peaking.
Finally the Dept for Energy and Climate Change – in their infinite wisdom – have recently become strong converts to the cause of community energy. Yesterday DECC minsters Ed Davey and Greg Barker were at Brixton Energy – a dynamic energy coop in London – to launch a consultation on the benefits, barriers and solutions to community energy.
They want to know what you think – see here.
Well, here at BEC we have some ideas, that perhaps you’d like to pass onto DECC. Just a few are mentioned below. In the meantime I hope you are all well – and look forward to seeing you at the Eco-Technology Show next week!
BEC points of view on a community energy strategy:
1. At present BEC is not allowed to sell electricity to members, only to electricity companies (at present we sell to Good Energy). We think this is daft – it’d be of great advantage to BEC and our members if we could sell direct to individuals. This will become increasingly important as FITs are phased out over the next five years.
2. Renewable schemes often look on community-owned organisations with a mystification. There should be a requirement for new renewables projects to have a degree of community ownership.
3. Because of repeated cuts to Feed in Tariffs, community renewable schemes find it hard to produce both a dividend that’s attractive enough to entice investors and to deliver social projects. We think an increase in the fixed feed-in tariff threshold for community schemes is an important step.
4. Finally, there should be a minimum – and binding – annual target for new generation capacity from community renewables schemes.