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Mike Radlett, Carville Switchgear, Burgess Hill
Utilise Plus Event Report: ‘Future of Solar’ Networking Breakfast, Lewes
Delegates made their way to Lewes on a sunny morning in March for the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC’s networking breakfast, on the theme of the future of solar. This event was part of the SBP CIC’s ongoing Utilise Plus programme which helps small and medium sized enterprises to reduce their energy use, saving them money in the process.
The SBP CIC’s Jack Dale welcomed delegates and gave an overview of the services on offer through Utilise Plus, including fully-funded energy audits and a variety of events. Jack then handed over to the first expert speaker of the day, Chris Rowland of OVESCO. Chris outlined OVESCO’s mission of generating community-owned renewable energy before focussing on their Sunny Solar Schools project. Sunny Solar Schools has seen community-owned solar panels installed on various schools in East Sussex, including King’s Academy Ringmer where the SBP CIC will be holding a Sustainability Tour. The project also aims to educate the next generation with ‘energy talks’ at schools, work experience placements, and recognising good practice with awards.
The next expert speaker was Damian Tow of Brighton Energy Coop. Created in summer 2010, Brighton Energy Coop is a Community Benefit Society with around 420 members. Using investments made by their members, they install new solar PV systems for various organisations. Members receive a return on their investment and any extra money goes into their community fund.
Both Chris and Damian reflected on the challenges to future growth, namely changing government policies. The Feed-In Tariff – payments made to organisations and individuals for generating their own electricity – was reduced by 65% in 2016 and will end completely from April 2019. Nonetheless, Chris and Damian are optimistic about the future of solar, noting that positive public support for new projects suggests a bright path ahead.
After the talks, the event ended with networking over refreshments. The event was well-received by delegates, with Mark Emrys-Jones of LMS Group praising the “environmentally-engaged networking,” while Andy Hepworth of Hepworth & Co. Brewery appreciated “being kept up-to-date on solar developments” and Chloe Bullock of Materialise Interiors described the session as “excellent and informative.”
This event was fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). At the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC, we love hearing from enthusiastic speakers, interesting venues, and proactive event partners. If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch.