Brighton Energy, one of Britain’s most far-sighted volunteer-run energy co-operatives, is powering ahead, giving help to small businesses wanting to strip carbon from their power consumption.

In 2023’s first three months Brighton Energy Co-op has allocated cash lingering on from the UK’s now vanished EU membership, passing it to ten Sussex firms to aid onsite generation with solar PV arrays.

In only one quarter enterprises including a tea importer, a carpet wholesaler and a conservation project have together gained around 1.5 MWp in PV capacity, generating an expected 1.43 million kWh for qualifying firms, located across the seaside city and its Sussex hinterland.

The allocation brings to 19 the number of firms to benefit from the co-op’s anticipatory application for solar grants, made by Brighton Energy in the dying days of this nation’s forty-seven year EU membership.

A further 15 solar projects are due to be completed by June, according to the co-op’s latest newsletter. It is due to pay out a further £300,000 of grants before October.

The cash comes from Brussels’ Regional Development Fund.  Brighton Energy worked with Sussex Local Enterprise Partnerships to distribute £25,000 packages under its Community Solar Accelerator programme, supporting up to 40% of a qualifying SME’s new rooftop installation.

“We often found that other businesses saw their neighbours using our grant to install solar panels on their roofs. Several of these neighbouring businesses then decided to install their own PV arrays even without our grant!”, Brighton Energy’s latest newsletter relates.

Last year the Brighton citizens brought to fruition their biggest ever PV project, a giant 0.57 MW set of arrays at Rathfinny Wine Estate, near Alfriston, pictured. Funded to the tune of £400,000 by around one hundred small investors, the project has been nominated by its installer Genfit for a regional energy efficiency award.

Now thirteen-years old, Brighton Energy has in its history raised £2.5 million for free PV on schools, from 500 local investors placing stakes from £300 upwards.

Its next project is assisting in continuing consultations aimed at setting up a community-focused energy benefit company on Crawley’s Manor Royal estate next to Gatwick Airport.

Read more about Brighton Energy here.  Interest declared: The present writer is a member of Brighton Energy.


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