Brighton Energy Coop: An Innovation History

September 2012, Sabine Hielscher.

The Brighton Energy Co-op is a community renewable energy project based in Brighton & Hove. The Co-op currently consists of a chairman, Will Cottrell, two directors, Damian Tow and Ross Gilbert and three advisors, Danni Craker, Jeremy Leggett and John Smith. The Brighton Energy Co-op aims to run and finance renewable energy projects in Brighton & Hove whilst benefiting the local community and the environment. They want to enable people to invest money into renewable energy projects that provide a small financial return to its members but also deliver environmental and social benefits. In the process they aim to make the running of renewable projects more democratic. This innovation history traces the development of the Brighton Energy Co-op from its conception (i.e. the coming together of three people in June 2010) through its development phase, with its numerous setbacks and comebacks (e.g. provoked by changes to the Feed-in-Tariff) to its share launch in May 2012. This is a story of persistence, determination and opportunism.

Brighton Energy Coop Innovation History

Community Energy Innovation Histories

CISE is conducting 12 in-depth case studies of community energy projects, to better understand how these innovations emerge, develop, spread and grow.

Each case study is written up as an ‘Innovation History’, allowing participants to explain their own individual stories, with researcher reflections and insights inserted into the text.

Ro Randall – founder of Carbon Conversations – stated how the innovation history approach, and conceiving of Carbon Conversations as an ‘innovation’, had made her think about things in a new way. She says:

“Reading your draft has helped me reflect on the relationship between innovation/innovators and the networks of people and support that give them space to innovate. Innovation often gets seen as having an ’author’, rather than being a group or network product and although I was pivotal, Andy’s role was absolutely key. I could have innovated my socks off but without his technical expertise – from knowledge of the science and technology, through to his ability to manage the finances and website – little would have happened. Beyond that there has been a much larger network of people who have contributed to the project and perhaps don’t get recognised as they should. Maybe there are inevitable tensions between innovative projects and the environments that nurture them. Good reflective practice can certainly be helped by having people from the outside taking a look – they see different things, offer other frameworks and that can be really useful.”

We hope you enjoy our Innovation Histories, we will make them available here throughout 2012 as they are completed.