Community Energy & Carbon Saving Award 2019

Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo) has been awarded the 2019 Community Energy & Carbon Saving Award.

BHESCo is a consumer co-operative comprising over 170 members and with four full time members of staff who have made remarkable achievements in just four years. They have delivered 52 energy projects, completed 670 energy audits, and advised 1,500 customers, making annual CO2 savings of 441 tonnes.

In contrast to many other community energy groups, BHESCo has decided to deliver the full spectrum of low carbon technologies, rather than focus on a single technology, such as solar.  This approach of utilising the most effective solution for each individual property means that BHESCo has deployed a wide variety of different technologies, including solar PV, battery storage, biomass, heat pumps, heat networks, underfloor heating, and a range of efficiency measures.

Although the team at BHESCo recognise that sometimes it would be simpler and easier to replicate the success of previous projects, the co-operative is dedicated to always achieving the best results for each new project using the most effective technologies available at the time. This very often means investigating and utilising new and emerging technologies. BHESCo is currently developing projects that incorporate peer-to-peer energy trading, solar car-ports, and tracking solar panels.

Across Sussex, BHESCo has delivered 42 community energy projects using these varied technologies, with properties ranging from schools and churches to a climbing centre and indoor bowling green, now generating low carbon energy. The local community using BHESCo’s ‘Pay As You Save’ financial model, which removes the burden of upfront costs from our energy project customers, has met the costs for all these projects. As of August 2019, BHESCo has raised £592,000 through four community share offers.

The co-operative also delivers an Energy Saving Service to accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency improvements for homes and businesses in the local area. This service was launched in January 2016 and has since completed energy audits on 674 properties.

Every winter, BHESCo participates in the Big Energy Saving Network, providing free advice on tariff switching, energy debt, and financial support available to low income and vulnerable households. Since 2015 BHESCo has advised 1,575 residents and achieved collective savings of £105,000.

BHESCo is also developing two large-scale projects which will be ‘first of a kind’ projects for the UK. One is the creation of a biomass powered rural heat network taking 80 properties off their oil-based heat source. The other is an anaerobic digestion plant that will generate low carbon gas from 35,000 tonnes of annual food waste produced by the city’s hospitality industry.

Both of these projects are highly complex and require long-term development, but will be landmark achievements for the community energy sector when they are delivered. 

BHESCo’s ‘Able To Pay’ Energy Saving Service is a unique service within the community energy sector. To support the delivery of this service, BHESCo developed a bespoke digital energy survey platform, which is able to capture data on site during a survey and upload it automatically to a cloud-based CRM. They have developed an algorithm to produce expected financial and CO2 savings based on the input data, which greatly reduces the time required to complete produce a post-survey report, making the service quicker and more cost-effective. BHESCo plans to licence this software so other energy groups around the UK can also rollout low cost energy efficiency surveys within their local communities.

BHESCo currently have a number of projects in development that will considerably increase the annual CO2 savings achieved by the co-operative. Projects include five schools, a church, a wellbeing centre, a housing co-op, and a brewery, and will involve the installation over 940 solar panels over the coming months.

BHESCo constantly strives towards achieving their vision of becoming Brighton and Hove’s go-to service for homes and businesses wanting to reduce their energy costs and CO2 emissions.