High Electricity Prices are Good News for Renewables
With electricity prices hitting headlines, you could be forgiven a sense of crisis. But apart from the obscene spectacle of government subsidising CO2 production in the year of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, there’s one thing the headlines omit – that the burgeoning cost of power is actually good news for renewable energy.
The reason is simple: because building owners feel the pinch in their wallets, and solar is the pressure release for these costs. Hence, we see more and more people interested in solar via BEC, or indeed doing it themselves (there is something of a boom going for solar installers at the moment).
As well as saving money on bills (duh), us solar generators can now sell our electricity for more. Previously we sold our exported electricity at around 5p per unit. From next year that’s gone up to 7p. Anecdotally I’m told that some solar farm operators are getting short term contracts worth more than 10p per unit, a doubling of prices from just 12 months ago.
All that is good news because it makes solar more financially viable.
New Solar Projects
A key focus for BEC at this time is therefore taking advantage of market conditions and ramped up concerns about climate change to develop our solar pipeline. We are currently in discussion with a total of about 3MW solar of solar rooftops. This work is ongoing and we aim to launch a share offer (our tenth) in the near future.
Getting to know our Community better
A second thrust of our current work is to engage and diversify our work in our community. That involves getting to know our members better, as well as broadening our non-renewables work.
Over the next few months, we’ll be kicking off the Brighton Energy Cycle Club (see below), running webinars about our share offer – and of course our AGM next week. We will also launch a programme to recruit ambassadors to help spread the word.
Brighton Energy Cycle Club
On 2nd October we’re holding Brighton Energy Cycle Club’s inaugural ride! We invite you to join BEC directors, Will & Damian, on this moderate cycle trip from Brighton to visit BEC’s solar PV system at Bolney Wine Estate and enjoy a country picnic with like-minded people. This will be an estimated 2-hour ride, covering around 20 miles through the Downs and lower Weald. The route is mainly quiet and paved with gently undulating terrain with some steep inclines. Some may find the hills challenging, but due to the short nature and overall cycling distances we have graded the route as moderate.
The Bolney estate hosts one of our 60kW BEC solar arrays and our first solar-connected electric vehicle charge points. It has a wonderful Café, Vineyard Shop and new Picnic Areas to enjoy. This is a great way to meet Brighton Energy members and staff, as well as enjoy the Wine Estate’s hospitality.
Where? Rotunda Café, Rose Garden, Preston Park, Brighton, BN1 6HN.
When? 10am-2pm Sat 2/10/2021
What? Hopefully a sun hat, sun cream, plenty of water & order your picnic basket!
How? Book your place on the ride via Eventbrite here
BEC Community Fund Education Programme
We’ve recently upgraded our Community Fund too. In 2020 we shifted our Community Fund from “in school” renewables education to online. Our Community Fund manager Atlanta Cook forged relationships between a national online, school-specific energy analysis tool and energy education charity, Energy Sparks , and Brighton & Hove City Council’s Energy & Water Team.
This new relationship not only allows all 13 Brighton Energy Co-op Solar Schools, but all Brighton & Hove City Council schools, to participate in this exceptional education programme. It’s a powerful monitoring tool that helps schools save energy, money and prevent climate change.
In a bid to further support our Solar Schools struggling with the devasting effects of the last 18 months, we’ve also offered each of them a £300 grant from the fund. This allows them to allocate time and resources to learn to use the new tool and explore the high-quality teaching resources and task programme for their pupils. BHESCO’s 6 Brighton & Hove solar schools will also now be able to benefit from this new relationship.
BEC AGM – 6pm Thur 30 Sep @Platf9rm’s Tower Point, North Rd.
Don’t forget that – for BEC members – we also have our AGM next week. Reserve your seat via the Sharenergy email invite sent to all members last week.
Share Offer Webinar
The result of our recent membership survey encouraged us to look at more ways we can encourage a younger and broader audience to get involved with renewable energy and to engage with ethical investment in Brighton & Hove’s community energy infrastructure.
So: for our next share offer we’re jazzing things up. We want to be ‘fairer with shares’ and also widen the demographic of our community energy investors.
To this end we have a ‘waiting list’ where you can pledge to invest in BEC and be the first to know about the next share offer launch. We are also going to cap the maximum amount that people can invest, in order that the supply of shares runs out less quickly.
We know it’s unusual – counter-intuitive even – but we’ve also dropped the investment threshold to £100 to enable those with lower incomes to get involved in community ownership of our energy supply.
The next share offer will also have a ‘crowd-funder style’ approach. To talk through all of this we’ll be holding a webinar when we launch our next offer – we’ll let you know details nearer the time.
BEC EV Charge Point Network Charges Ahead
Charging your electric car whilst you’re busy doing something else really is the most convenient way to charge. BEC is continuing its roll out of solar PV linked charge points, with the most recent installations at places of work – Maritime House Business Centre at Shoreham Port and Carden Primary School. By adding a charge point, we’re also ensuring that the clean, green electricity generated by the BEC solar PV arrays at these sites is being used as close to source as possible.
The BEC charge point roll out is funded by the Power to Change Next Generation Community Energy Programme. Part of our role in this programme is to develop business tools that can be used by other community groups. Our Next Generation Community Fund Project manager, Noeleen Keane, has developed a PV + EV business forecasting tool to help community groups determine if a particular site would be commercially viable & forecast what profits could be generated & then used to support local community initiatives or development of more renewables. Noeleen & Damian recently shared the model with other community groups in the Next Generation programme & it will be available to all community groups soon.
We hope you’ve enjoyed Brighton Energy’s Autumn Solar News, and you’re lapping up the Autumn Equinox sunshine. We also look forward to seeing you at our AGM!
Thank you so much for your continued support of community-owned energy.
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