Spring Unfurls Lighter Days As Our Community Blossoms

In this issue…

  • Community Energy Arrives at Newhaven Port
  • First Community Energy South Regional Forum
  • BEC Pipeline Hots Up
  • Revenue Increased Through REGOs Scheme
  • BEC Out In The Community
  • We Launched A Free ‘Energy & Carbon Footprint Workshop’ for Schools
  • Brighton Energy Strategy
  • Paying Back Member Capital
  • Our community energy t-shirts Range Expands
Community energy solar panels on Newhaven Port building

Revitalising Newhaven: BEC Brings Community Energy to Newhaven Port

February saw our first community energy solar project at Newhaven Port signed off – the final project funded by our Bond issue in mid 2023. At 300kW this is one of our larger systems, and we are pleased to report it is generating well. The project helps Newhaven Port move towards Net Zero – as well as saving thousands of £s in the process.  Read more about this first for us here in the blog.

BEC Solar on Cardinal Newman Catholic School

Empowering Communities: Insights from the Community Energy England Regional Forum

Speaking of Newhaven, on March 21st Community Energy England (a trade body for 300+ community energy groups), in partnership with Community Energy South, held their first Regional Forum at East Sussex College Newhaven – Marine Workshops. Several members of our team were there to represent BEC, a great opportunity to network and learn a thing or two about Stakeholder Engagement!

The forum brought together people from community energy groups across the south east, climate groups, community representatives, local authorities and UK Power Networks, the Distribution Network Operator, to share knowledge, problem solve collaboratively and form partnerships to accelerate the growth of community-owned clean energy and energy efficiency measures across the region. 

Steph Mills, Project Manager for Ouse Valley Climate Action, said: “It’s wonderful to see this forum taking place as there’s so much local communities can do in terms of developing greener energy and energy efficiency. It’s something that helps the local environment, as well as potentially reducing household bills – a win-win that will help to build resilience to climate change.”

Read more on Community Energy South’s website here or see the local Sussex Express coverage here.

BEC Solar on Cardinal Newman Catholic School

BEC Pipeline Hots Up This Spring

We are hard at the coalface of developing new community solar projects to add to the 90+ that we’ve built so far – see a map of them all here. 

The BEC project pipeline includes 5 new educational sites, a number of substantial SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) and another large project with one of our local ports on the horizon. 

“There’s an increased appetite for community energy in the private sector and some interesting possible ways round PFI issues amongst some of our local schools,” said Matt Brown, BEC’s New Project Development Manager

If you know a local organisation or business that uses lots of electricity and has a large roof they can come to Brighton Energy Co-op for a fully-funded community-owned solar system.  Ask them to contact matt@brightonenergy.org.uk

BEC Solar on Cardinal Newman Catholic School

BEC Raises Tens of Thousands of £s Through Sale of REGOs

A significant piece of work recently carried out by team member Svenja Czubayko has been registering all our 90+ community solar projects with the REGOs scheme. REGOs are basically certificates that show electricity is from renewable sources – issued by OFGEM.

These sorts of certificates provide transparency to consumers about the proportion of electricity that suppliers source from renewables. To avoid green washing!

Now: for a long time we’ve basically ignored the potential REGOs that our solar projects could generate. Essentially they weren’t worth very much. However, Brexit meant UK companies could no longer buy certificates from Europe (more on that here) – suddenly they needed UK-sourced certificates. And so – with renewable energy generation more or less stable – the price of REGOs has gone up.

So much so, that the value to BEC of all these REGOs is now in the tens of thousands of pounds per year, which is obviously great news. The registration process has been fairly arduous, but we’ve more or less completed it now.  Once the REGOs are sold we’ll be using the additional income to fund more local community renewable energy projects and boost our Community Fund.

BEC Solar on Cardinal Newman Catholic School

Image: Matthew Holmes trialing our workshop kit at Ditchling Primary School

BEC Out In The Community

Over the last few months we’ve been developing a free Energy & Carbon Footprint Workshop for local schools.  It launched at Coldean Primary School on April 16th. King’s School STEM teacher, Matthew Holmes, has helped us create the resources needed to teach kids about the different energy sources available, whilst asking them to consider their own personal Carbon Footprint.  

Atlanta & Matthew will be facilitating these 50 minute workshops ending with a solar car race!  Winning teams of pupils will each get a Brighton Energy T-shirt as a prize. The school gets to keep the ‘BEC Energy & Carbon Footprint Workshop Kit’ to use with their other year groups.  

BEC is offering this free workshop to all its solar schools that took up the grant it offered for an Energy Sparks subscription last year.  Hopefully, we can offer it to more local schools in the city once this group is complete.

BEC Solar on Cardinal Newman Catholic School

Image: BEC Comms & Community Fund Manager Atlanta Cook & East Sussex College Student Experience Co-ordinator Keiron Pierce with Ore Valley Students

BEC attends Sustainability Week at East Sussex College

East Sussex College’s Ore Valley Campus in Hastings is home to a BEC 250kW solar system that we built in 2016. Recently they invited us to participate in their Sustainability Week. Fittingly, the college is home to their Construction, Engineering, IT and Computing, and Music subjects, with industry-standard workshops and equipment, meaning their students are well prepared for work once they finish their studies. 

We received a warm welcome from Ore Valley’s Keiron Pierce, who helped us entice students to “have a go” at building our solar turbine model and using a lamp to race our solar powered cars! 

Lots of staff members also took time to find out about the unique community energy funding model. We’re really excited that Keiron has asked us to organise a rooftop visit for the ESC Green Training Hub and Engineering students to see our solar system and inverters later in the year.

 Sustainability Matters Career Fair – Greater Brighton MET College

Next our head of Communications, Atlanta Cook, took our stall to MET College’s Central Brighton Campus – home to a 120kW solar system since 2021.  She spent a busy afternoon talking to Art, Design and Language students about the more creative career opportunities in renewables and sustainability in general.  She met a young chap who wanted to use his poster designs to get the climate emergency and net zero messages across – so she offered him a social media campaign work placement – watch this space!

BEC Solar on Port Kitchen Shoreham

Brighton Energy Strategy April 2024 Onwards

It’s time to strategise! BEC’s coming to the end of its 4 year strategy plan so we’re taking time out as a team to look at where we’ve come from and where we’re heading to. We’re off to Bluebell Hill in Kent for a 24 hour meeting to knock our heads together to finalise a super new strategy to take Brighton Energy onwards and upwards.  We’ll be using the findings from our 3 Things Survey and Mini Summit last Summer to improve communications with Members and Bond Holders, focus our climate action, future proof our Community Energy Business Model and ensure we’re maximising every penny in our Community Fund to support renewable energy education in our city.

Paying Back Member Capital

BEC’s business model assumes paying back 5% of Member capital each year.  In recent years we have taken the opportunity to reinvest this capital by building new solar arrays.  Going forward we aim to pay back 5% of Member capital each year, and we plan to start this in a few weeks’ time. So all Members who invested in shares before 2021 will receive a payment which amounts to 5% of the remaining funds they have invested in BEC.  We will also pay Member interest as usual after our AGM on Monday 30th September at the Brighthelm Centre.

In other good news…

Kids BEC T-Shirts!

We’ve added a kids design and some new colours to our range of Brighton Energy t-shirts so you can wear your membership of Brighton Energy with pride this Summer! 

Our Ts have been given as gifts, used as a raffle prize to raise funds for Brighton Women’s Centre, and handed out as prizes during our free Energy & Carbon Footprint school workshop.  You can also buy the t-shirt designs as prints via Will’s art website here

Finally, it’s time once again for us to thank you – our Members, Bond Holders, Partner Sites and Supporters – for helping us reach our goal of local action on climate change. We can’t do any of this without your ethical investment and vision for the future!

We wish you all the joys of Spring and look forward to working with you further to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and teach the next generation that another way is possible. 

Sunny regards,

Brighton Energy Co-op


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