22 Dec 2015
As an amazing year for BHESCo draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to share some of our proudest successes of the past 12 months, and to look ahead at all we can expect from 2016.
This year, we launched our first ever Share Offer in June, raising nearly £170,000 of investment from our new members. This gave us the tools we need to help local businesses and residents develop renewable energy projects around Brighton and Hove, like solar PV and biomass, as well as investing in energy saving measures like insulation, LED lighting and double-glazing.
With our first wave of projects nearly complete, we now have a number of exciting new projects ready to begin in 2016. Before we tell you about what’s to come, let’s take a quick look back at some of our highlights from this year.
Through BHESCo’s innovative ‘Pay As You Save’ model, we helped this local wood pulp to paper production company to install a biomass boiler on their premises which now provides 100% of heat needs to the manufacturing plant, offices, cottage, and studio. Whilst helping the customer to enjoy an immediate drop in fuel bills for no up front cost, the biomass boiler (which is powered by wood-pellets) also helps to offset the equivalent of 503 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. We partnered with ‘A Greener Alternative‘ to help us deliver this project.
We are currently installing a 4kW solar PV panel array for Netfuse, which will help save money on electricity bills as well as lowering the company’s carbon footprint. To increase the energy efficiency of the building, BHESCo has engaged Organic Roofs to install a green roof, will install secondary glazing on the windows, and replace all the lights with highly efficient LEDs. The LED are guaranteed to provide office quality lighting for five years.
Solar For Homes, Whitehawk & Moulsecomb
In a joint project with Brighton and Hove City Council and Joju Solar, BHESCo went to the community to support the installation of free solar panels for 25 Council owned properties around the Whitehawk and Moulsecomb areas. While helping to save tenants up to £130 each year on their energy bills (at least 2 months for free for the next 25 years ), we anticipate carbon savings of just over 40 tonnes every year of CO2 equivalent.
The Werks, 45 Church Road, Brighton
The Werks on Church Road is a collaborative work hub for the digital creatives. BHESCo replaced an obsolete, flourescent tube lighting design with a high efficiency LED system. The project was complex, as customer an occupants had their own requirements and preferences. We completed the project to the customer’s satisfaction. We also installed motion sensors to improve energy savings. Annually, Werks Group save over 4200kg CO2 equivalent .
NEW PROJECTS for 2016
Food Waste To Community Energy
In October BHESCo announced to the residents of Hangleton and Knoll our plan to develop an Anaerobic Digester in the area, which would see local food waste diverted from landfill and incineration to be used to create clean renewable energy. We ran two information days and had a great turn out with people showing lots of support. We also heard from residents who had concerns around noise, smell, traffic and the visual impact, and we discussed ways that we will limit these impacts through technology and due care.
This month, working with Brighton Paper Round we have started contacting organisations that produce food waste (including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, care homes, and many others) asking them to commit to separating and recycling their food waste through our scheme. Not only will this divert useful food waste from landfill and create locally produced clean energy but it also makes great financial sense. According to a study conducted by Brighton Paper Round, organisations shifting their food waste from the general waste increase will see a drop in the costs for the collection and disposal of up to 40%.
It’s another win win win created by BHESCo! If you know of, or are part of, an organisation that may be interested in signing up to our food waste collection then get in contact today to find out how we can help to lower your environmental impact, reduce your waste disposal costs and create low cost energy for the community.
BHESCo To Launch New Home Visit Service
We are delighted to announce that we will be launching a new home energy assessment service from January 2016. We aim to provide an affordable and impartial service which enables everyone in the community to receive a complete home energy assessment tailored to their circumstances.
Our friendly and professional Home Energy Advisors will arrange to visit your home to identify how you could save money and stay warm in the winter months. They will also be on hand to provide impartial energy supplier switching advice and can advise on whether you may be eligible for available benefits or grants towards your energy bills.
BHESCo would like show our enormous appreciation to everyone who has invested in the co-operative, or has worked alongside us on our various projects, or has volunteered some of their time to help us along our way. The Co-operative really is more than the sum of its parts and we could not have enjoyed such a fantastic 2015 without the support of you all.
So thank you,
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
16 Nov 2015
On 19 November, at Wagner Hall in Brighton, BHESCo is hosting an event that is promising to be an inspiring evening of talks from environmental activists working to combat climate change on a local level.
Book your tickets now to attend this free event
Howard Johns, author of Energy Revolution will lead the discussion about the clean energy alternatives that can be developed through a community energy business model.
Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement says about Energy Revolution: “Re-imagining our energy system offers the potential of a win-win-win future: low carbon energy, more resilient communities, vibrant local economies. What’s more, it’s possible and it’s already happening. Howard Johns, founder of Southern Solar and OVESCo, paints a spellbinding picture of the revolution happening around us, and the part you could play in it.”
Telling stories of the change that’s already happening from around the world and drawing on two decades of his own unique experience, Howard Johns demonstrates how we can develop our own renewable energy projects to provide local energy and create a new fleet of businesses. He shows us how communities can build local energy solutions (renewable power stations that will be a new form of building society) where we come together to develop, finance and construct the infrastructure that we and future generations so desperately need. These new systems will create new jobs and businesses, reduce energy imports and create new local investment models.
7:00pm Doors open
7:05 Welcome and introduction – Kayla Ente
7:10 Short clip of Vicki Lesley’s film on Nuclear Power and Q&A
7:30 Howard Johns talks about community energy and its potential to transform the industry
8:00pm Will Cottrell, Chairman, Brighton Energy Co-operative
8:15pm Chris Tomlinson, Project manager Rampion Wind farm
8:30pm Anthony Probert, Bioregional – One Plant Living
8:45pm Kayla Ente, Founder, BHESCo
11 Nov 2015
Launched by the Department of Energy & Climate Change in 2013, the BESN supports a network of local energy champions help the most vulnerable in society in the fight against fuel poverty.
The aim of the programme is to help people save money on their energy bills. BHESCo provides training to people working on the frontlines in our community, providing information to help them identify those most at risk of fuel poverty, and to provide essential advice on how to stay warm this winter so that they can go out and combat fuel poverty in Brighton and Hove directly.
Beginning with the Big Energy Saving Week on 26 October 2015, we have a full programme of events on offer to help people lower their bills and stay warm this winter. We will be running an energy advice desk every Thursday at the Hollingdean Community Cafe. We will have an energy advice desk at various food banks around the city.
Help is offered in a variety of different ways, from information about switching to the cheapest energy supplier, to advice on how to make sure homes are properly insulated, as well as ways to use less energy around the house. We can help customers save up to £200 a year by switching tariff or supplier and getting the £140 Warm Home Discount.
Since its launch, the Big Energy Saving Network has funded over 150 projects, trained 500 volunteers, and helped over 90,000 hard-to-reach and vulnerable energy customers, with BHESCo playing a vital role in the success of the programme. In recognition of the great work we’ve done, BHESCo was awarded the highest points from any organisation in the country.
So please, don’t miss this unique opportunity to receive free impartial advice on your energy bills – come to one of our consultation days for a cup of tea and a friendly chat, where you can even pick up a free energy monitor for your home!
The Conservative budget announcement in July was not good news for the renewables industry, nor for members of the public who are concerned about climate change, rising energy prices and the impact that extreme methods of extracting oil and gas will have on our air, water and soil (1,2). Support for the renewable industry and tackling climate change appears be drying up at a time when we need them more than ever (3).
We see that there are cuts ahead, so that even large coal–fired power stations like Drax, who were seen as the UK’s worst carbon dioxide polluter, are complaining about how their transition to biomass is being undermined(4,5). Instead there is massive funding of taxpayers money pouring into the nuclear industry to support the construction of new nuclear power plants, decommissioning and the long-term management of its toxic waste legacy (6). We know that nuclear is not a solution for climate change or keeping the lights on as the problems are looming and it takes 15 years to build a nuclear power station. Then there’s tax breaks for the shale gas extraction industry(7), although most of us oppose “fracking” which creates numerous problems for local communities, wastes more taxpayers money because the protests against fracking in areas that are precious to us will not abate. Besides the obvious detriment to our environment, the untold clean-up costs after it’s sucked the last drop of ‘fracked’ gas from the ground beneath us (8,9) and the impact on our water supply.
We need to ask some questions; who benefits from these subsidies? How are the investments made by this government going to benefit us, the taxpayer, in the long-term? Are we receiving value for money on governments investment of our taxes and finally – Why aren’t they listening to us? Already we are paying too much for our energy. Even the Prime Minister, has moved on to the former Labour leader’s territory, and is considering a temporary cap on our fuel bills as a result of the monopolising power of just 6 big energy corporations controlling over 90% of the UK energy market (10). Unfortunately, this is only a plaster for the bigger problem, which is that our energy strategy that is not fit for purpose.
There are solutions to these problems. There is a growing movement of local community energy groups across the UK, particularly, social enterprises and co-operatives like BHESCo here in Brighton and Hove. By building our own renewable energy generation and improving the thermal efficiency of our built environment, we can take some of the power out of the hands of the big corporations inflicting price increases and reduce our energy costs, improve the energy efficiency of our homes, stimulate the local economy, tackle fuel poverty and contribute to mitigating the biggest global threat to our existence, climate change. We can join other successful communities across Europe and all across the globe who are turning to more democratic, decentralised, community-owned, renewable energy solutions, controlled by us and for us (11).
After the success of the last 2 years, the Big Energy Saving Network (BESN) BHESCo is part of a consortium of community energy groups that has applied for support for two energy champions starting again this autumn/winter (12). We will be encouraging vulnerable customers to make themselves known to us because we can help them save money by reviewing their energy bills, offering impartial switching advice to the cheapest tariffs, general advice on energy efficiency in the home and how to keep warm this winter. We will also be taking action to help people be more energy efficient through small measures that we will implement in home visits.
We really can reclaim the power. It’s up to us to do it together. That’s what Community Energy is all about.
1. Budget 2015: Key climate and energy announcements: http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2015/07/summer-budget-2015-key-climate-and-energy-announcements/
2. Chancellor to push up renewable energy taxes in Budget with ‘climate shaped hole’: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2416918/chancellor-to-push-up-renewable-energy-taxes-in-budget-with-climate-shaped-hole
3. Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/dec/23/british-petroleum-geologist-peak-oil-break-economy-recession
4. End of climate levy exemption dents Drax: http://nicosiamoneynews.com/2015/07/08/end-of-climate-levy-exemption-dents-drax/
5. End support for Drax: stop subsidies for biomass power and phase out coal! http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2840617/end_support_for_drax_stop_subsidies_for_biomass_power_and_phase_out_coal.html
6. County councils sidelined from nuclear waste dump site decisions: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/12/county-councils-nuclear-waste-dump-sites
7. UK’s shale gas revolution falls flat with just 11 new wells planned for 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/19/uk-shale-gas-revolution-falls-flat-just-11-new-wells-planned-2015
8. Fracking plans rejected: Lancashire council throws out Cuadrilla proposal – at it happened: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/11705333/Fracking-decision-Lancashire-live.html
9. No fracking at Balcombe, says energy company Cuadrilla: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/no-fracking-at-balcombe-says-energy-company-cuadrilla-9081875.html
10. PM ‘to consider’ temporary cap on high UK energy bills (July 7th, 2015 5:50 pm): http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/843585e6-2474-11e5-9c4e-a775d2b173ca.html
11. Tory ‘blue crap’ means UK is falling behind in global switch to clean energy:
12. Big Energy Saving Network 2015/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/big-energy-saving-network-grant-offer-fund
On the 4th June 2015, the Chancellor, George Osborne announced £4 ½ billion of cuts including £70 million to be cut from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) budget.
The Carbon Brief released a report previous to this on the 3rd June 2015 highlighting the limited scope for cuts within the DECC and the potential impact if cuts did take place.
With the Conservative government promising to decrease public spending, whilst protecting health, pensions and education, unprotected departments such as the DECC are likely to be the focus for cuts.
Impact of cuts
Carbon Brief analysed the 2013/14 budget of the DECC which was £3.4 billion. The money spent on managing the UK’s military nuclear waste and decommissioning legacy accounts for 65% of this budget. The core departmental priorities accounts for the remaining 34%.
The Carbon brief concluded that 87% of the overall budget was essential and would not be eligible for cuts. This 87% is made up of costs relating to the nuclear legacy, international agreements and legal liabilities from formerly nationalised energy industries. Therefore, 13% of the budget could potentially be cut from the DECC’s budget. Currently, 2% (£70 million) of their budget has already been cut.
The impact of these cuts will mean there is less money to dedicate to research on energy and climate change as well as schemes to help people out of fuel poverty.
One example of a scheme which the Carbon Brief suggests is likely to be cut is Green Deal. This a government scheme lead by the DECC which helps people find the best way to pay for energy saving improvements they want to make to their homes including energy grants, like the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. These improvements can include insulation, heating, double glazing and renewable energy sources which can help reduce long-term energy costs. Without the support of the government, less people will have access to the funding needed to make important improvements to their homes.
Importance of community energy
When the government is demonstrating that they are willing to make cuts to energy and climate change services, the need for community energy projects becomes clear.
Community energy projects which favour renewable energy sources can help to create a more secure energy future for the community in addition to helping reduce the impact of climate change.
Access to cost-efficient local energy benefits all members of the community but is especially essential to people who are living in fuel poverty.