Brighton Energy’s Souped Up Summer
No lazy Summer days here at BEC – we’ll be making solar while the sun shines! You may recall that a while back we secured quite a few exemptions to the end of the Feed in Tariff Scheme: well, at the end of March we polished off the last of these. We’ve extended our solar-connected EV Charger Network and have been visiting our 80+ solar arrays for maintenance. We’ve also thrown ourselves – well, Will – into mentoring budding community energy co-ops and finally we’ve some exciting news on our latest share offering – read on below for more.
Aircraft Maintenance & Motor Engineering Campus Gets 60kW System
Rounding off our partnership with Greater Brighton MET College, we installed a free solar PV system on their roof at Cecil Pashley Way, Shoreham Airport in late March. This fourth community-owned 60kW solar system will save GBMC a further £3,500 on their energy bill each year. Ka-ching! The super-fast installation went to plan, with the extra requirement of having to undertake an Aviation Hazard Report, including a glare analysis, of course.
This was the last of Brighton Energy’s 80+ Feed in Tariff (FiT) arrays. We would like to thank our New Project Developer, Matt Brown, GenFit site manager, David Cowley and GBMC’s Building & Contracts Manager, Chris Tuft, for all their hard work to meet this strict deadline.
We would also like to thank Simon Brodrick, GBMC’s Estates & Facilities Manager, who was instrumental in getting this project off the ground initially, but unfortunately passed away from Covid-19 before the project was completed. On behalf of the Brighton Energy Co-op team and all our Members we would like to pay our respects to his family, friends and work colleagues at GBMC.
Community Energy Mentoring
You might have noticed that our Chairperson, Will Cottrell, has been mentoring a new community energy project that’s being made into a documentary – DIY Culture at its best! At the core are artist, film maker couple Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn building the team with their local community of Walthamstow, London and beyond. They came down to visit Will last month and managed to get down to the nitty gritty of our unique energy co-op here in sunny Brighton. Watch the interview here https://vimeo.com/567557456
Their last documentary, Bank Job https://vimeo.com/377261764, saw the couple print their own money, sell it and then buy £1.2 million of high interest “toxic debt.” They then blew it up in a gold transit van. The movie was launched in UK cinemas last month and their new community energy project and film, POWER www.power.film is just beginning. It’s raw and real and we love it!
Will is also mentoring community energy schemes on the Isle of Wight and in Shropshire via Next Generation’s Community Energy Peer Mentoring Programme in a bid to share all of his knowledge and hands on experience before he forgets it all!
Summer Systems Maintenance
Each year we commission our long-term maintenance partner Solarise to check all the systems over and carry out our annual maintenance schedule. We’re currently working through the snagging list on our new sites and making sure everything’s online and all paperwork is in place before we move on to the new projects in our pipeline. This is an important part of BEC’s annual workload and is crucial to the energy efficiency and safety of our systems.
With over 80 arrays at 40 organisations in the South East region maintenance checks and works are a constant factor in our day to day business.
Solar Production News – Come On Sun!
We’ve seen low levels of sunlight since April, with solar production largely flat through May to July. In many areas where BEC has solar panels, April has been the sunniest month of the year so far.
Image above: Solar production at Woodingdean Primary School – the green bars show solar production for 2021
Image above: BEC solar impact at Bolney Wine Estate
At many of our sites, we have provided more than half our sites’ energy needs this year. For example, at Bolney Wine Estate, our 60kWp system has covered 65% of their energy needs in 2021. That’s the equivalent of 28 tonnes of CO2 saved, or more than 1300 trees planted.
Image above: Solar impact at Splashpoint Leisure Centre
At Splashpoint Leisure Centre on Worthing seafront, on the other hand, a similar sized system provides just 7% of their electricity. The fact that a swimming pool uses so much energy demonstrates that they are a great location for solar panels!
Image above: Solar Production at the Lady Bee Business Centre
Across the year we have provided 29% of the Centre’s energy needs, still the equivalent of planting 1000 trees or so. Meanwhile, the on-off appearance of the sun continues to suppress our solar output. In the above image from 9/7/21 at the Lady Bee Business Centre in Shoreham Port – the jagged green area would – on an expected summer’s day be shaped more like a bell.
Image above: Solar Output at RT Page – the green bars show monthly solar production in 2021, the blue 2020, red is 2019 and orange is 2018
But while we wait for the sun to make an appearance, the data from our 100kWp site at RT Page, a distribution firm in Littlehampton, shows that 2021 has had the least sunlight for the last four years.
And Our Survey Said…
Brighton Energy 2021 Strategy & Member Survey
Times are a changing, especially Government support for solar, as well as “everything else”, so BEC is innovating and adapting accordingly. We shared our 2021 Strategy and a Survey with our members back in May and had 79 responses – Thank you!
The Survey is part of an evaluation of Power To Change’s Next Generation programme being conducted by CAG Consultants in partnership with Fiveways. There were some very interesting results and we have been inspired to act on some of the findings. You can read our 2021 Strategy on our blog here, plus the membership Survey Report here.
BEC EV Charger Network Update
We’re working hard to get 6 more PodPoint Twin electric vehicle chargers installed in the Brighton Energy EV Charger Network with Amberley Museum, Shoreham Port, Carden Nursery & Primary School and Park Gate flats next in line. We just love the fact that you can now charge up your car with locally produced, community owned, green electricity.
This is an innovation project funded by the Power to Change Next Generation Community Energy Programme.
New Brighton Energy Co-op Share Offer
In addition to our existing solar sites, we have many new solar projects in the pipeline, and are aiming to launch our next share offering in late September. These sites will not have Feed in Tariffs and so are not as financially attractive as before. It’s likely therefore that new shareholders will receive a 3.5% return rate. Note that this won’t affect existing shareholders.
If you’re interested in joining BEC, or adding to your existing investment, pledge your support here.
BEC Membership Housekeeping
BEC Annual Accounts will be in soon so we hope to hold a Summer AGM at a physical venue (tba), as well as online – pop Thur 30th Sept 6pm in your diary!
On the financial side, last Autumn we paid 5% interest to our members who joined before 31/3/19. a total of £86 thousand quid! For those who joined after this date interest will be paid after the AGM.
Share Offer Correction
Please note that there was a mistake in our last share invitation which stated that interest would be paid to members in April 2021 who joined after 31/3/20. This should have read interest will be paid in Summer 2022, as a whole financial year needs to pass before interest can be paid.
We also paid back 5% of capital to all members who invested before 31/3/2019 last month.
Any enquiries regarding capital repayment or interest payments should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brighton Energy Gears Up for Grant Giving
BEC’s new offer for small businesses will provide a 40% grant off the cost of a solar PV array, or solar PV and electric vehicle charging point. There was a vast amount of paperwork to get this exciting offer in place and now we’re just waiting for the final “green light”.
To be amongst the first to hear about this fantastic opportunity please email email@example.com in advance of the official launch.
In other good news…
Welcome to the Team!
We would like to welcome our project management interns David Owers & Frankie Paolella-Kemp who are supporting the work of our New Project Developer, Matt Brown. The pipeline is looking good – well done all.
We hope you’ve enjoyed catching up on Brighton Energy’s Summer Solar News, and you get a chance to soak up some of that slightly illusive sunshine. We also look forward to updating you on the bigger projects in the pipeline at our AGM!
Thank you so much for bothering to complete our member survey and for your constant support of the co-op. We couldn’t do any of this without you!
If you haven’t already, sign up to our punchy newsletter to hear when we call out for new members to invest in local community solar energy and keep updated on other local renewables.
Brighton Energy Co-op