2023 was another busy year for BHESCo

As the impact of the climate crisis becomes ever more apparent, so too does the importance of our work here at BHESCo. 

In 2023, BHESCo have increased capacity in every area of our operations; reaching more people through fuel poverty interventions, developing more innovative low-carbon energy projects, and expanding our team to meet the demands of our growing business. 

With the pace of the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions accelerating, the role of BHESCo as a community-focussed and highly experienced energy consultant has become more pronounced, bringing with it new opportunities beyond the borders of our Sussex home. 

Read on for select highlights from what has been another significant year of growth here at Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative. 

BHESCo's first Local Area Energy Plan

In May 2023 BHESCo won a tender to develop a Local Area Energy Plan for The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership area, which comprises Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Telford & Wrekin.

The counties in the Marches region declared climate emergencies in 2019, announcing their ambition to generate half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. 

During the course of our analysis of the region for the LAEP, BHESCo concluded that reaching this ambition in the next 6 years was not possible, due to the herculean effort that would be required with insufficient resources to upgrade the electricity grid, to insulate properties and to build clean, renewable power. 

It is possible to reach these targets by 2050, with concentrated effort and collaboration between all industry participants. BHESCo’s plan showed how it could be done in the Marches region. The LAEP is a fine example of the possibility of using local natural resources to deliver on our climate goals.

You can read more detail on the Marches LAEP here.

The launch of BHESCo's first Bond Offer

In November 2023 BHESCo launched our first ever community Bond Offer, designed to finance the development of eight new clean energy projects around Sussex. 

For the first time, investments into BHESCo can be wrapped inside of an Innovative Finance ISA (IF-ISA), making any interest earned tax-free. 

Our goal is to raise £580,000 to install solar power on five school sites, plus a leisure centre, a business park, and an industrial estate.

The Bond Offer is being offered in partnership with Ethex, a leading impact investing platform. 

More details here – https://www.ethex.org.uk/invest/bhescobond2023

Carbon Neutral Communities compeition

In October 2023 BHESCo held a citywide competition to identify one lucky neighbourhood in Brighton and Hove who wanted to be our partners in a heat and power decarbonisation programme.

After reviewing a number of excellent nominations, BHESCo selected the neighbourhood of ‘Four Streets in Hove’ as the winner.

Starting with a launch event in January 2024, we will work closely with residents in the ‘Four Streets in Hove’ neighbourhood to develop a community-level package of energy efficiency and renewable energy installations that will drive down long-term heating costs and carbon emissions. You can read more about this programme on our dedicated website.

The BHESCo Team meet residents from the Four Streets in Hove community to congratulate them on winning the Carbn Neutral Communities competition

Tackling cold homes and fuel poverty

The UK energy crisis has caused massive hardship for households across the country, especially in Brighton & Hove where the cost of living is already very high. 

BHESCo’s Energy Saving Team have been in tremendous demand throughout the year from people who are struggling to afford the cost of heating and powering their homes.

Over the course of 2023, our team have provided one-to-one energy advice at food banks and community centres throughout the city, supporting 510 individuals with bespoke energy advice.

Separately, our Home Energy Saving Team have visited 347 properties this year, installing energy saving measures such as draught excluders, LED lamps, and radiator reflector foil, in addition to providing advice around heating controls and efficient energy use. Together, our fuel poverty intervention work has delivered £110,878 of financial benefit to our clients. 

BHESCo Home Energy Assessor Jack Ward installing some radiator reflector foil

BHESCo Five Year Growth Strategy

At the beginning of the year, the BHESCo team spent some time putting together a comprehensive Five Year Business Growth Strategy, designed to lay out a pathway for the broadening of our operations and the expansion of our impact.

The four key growth pillars identified in the Growth Plan were:

> Increase the value of community energy project assets under management

> Increase income from consultancy services, with a specific focus on Local Area Energy Plans (LAEPs)

> To pursue the development of Smart Local Energy Systems, with a focus on developing a community solar power programme

To develop, own and operate heat networks, with a particular focus on urban blocks of flats and rural off-gas communities

It is very encouraging that we have made great progress towards all of these targets, having completed our first LAEP consultancy, and developing eight new community energy projects this year. We will also look to develop a community solar programme through our Carbon Neutral Communities project, and are currently working with a number of blocks of flats on heat decarbonisation, utilising funding from the Heat Network Efficiency Scheme. 

Growing our team

The increase in demand for our services has necessitated the expansion of our team, and BHESCo have been delighted to increase our staff headcount from 8 to 11, an increase of 37%.

This figure does not include the significant contribution of volunteers and and interns who provide invaluable support to our team across all aspects of our operations. 

What to expect from 2024

We expect 2024 to be another year of significant growth for BHESCo, both in terms of the number of projects developed, the impact of our work, and the expansion of our team.

2024 will see the rollout of our Carbon Neutral Communities programme in the Four Streets neighbourhood of Hove, which we hope will become a replicable blueprint for the development of community-scale retrofit initiatives and rooftop solar power networks. 

We will also continue with our important work into the decarbonisation of heating in blocks of flats. These large, multi-occupancy properties often have a single shared source of heat, which makes them ideal for the introduction of a ground source heat pump. The heat pumps from each property could potentially be connected together to create a heat network. BHESCo are currently researching potential solutions at a number of properties in Brighton and Hove which we are optimistic will develop into future community energy projects.

In addition to these initiatives, BHESCo presently has around thirty potential community energy projects at the research and development stage, which will generate a healthy pipeline of projects into the new year and beyond. 

One thing is for certain – 2024 will be another period of growth and innovation for Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative. Once we have recharged and rested over the Christmas break, we look forward to embracing the new year with the passion and dynamism you have come to expect from BHESCo. 

Onwards & upwards

The BHESCo Team

Categories: News & Blog

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