Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative

BHESCo – a not-for-profit social enterprise – is developing innovative solutions to transform the way we heat rural households in Britain.

BHESCo is working with 5 rural
communities on heat networks


Our Aim

Helping rural communities to access climate-conscious and affordable heating.

Our story

Based in Brighton and Hove, BHESCo is part of the community energy sector, providing consultancy, project management, and energy services to develop new projects by engaging local communities while providing them with investment opportunities. We have delivered a broad range of successful community energy projects across Sussex and our reach is growing.

We are committed to not only helping people to access clean heating through renewable energy sources but doing so in a way that’s affordable and practical by employing proven technologies. We raise money through community investors, both locally and across the country, who are committed to sustainable social investment as well as securing grants and funding from external bodies where available.

Many rural communities are not connected to the gas grid, often comprising of older homes that are challenging to heat efficiently. Residents are forced to bulk buy oil, which can be very expensive as they are dependent on spot market pricing. If people can’t afford to buy oil in large quantities, they often have limited heating options. This means that off-grid communities not only rely on oil-fired heating, the fossil fuels that are causing climate change, they are also vulnerable to volatile oil prices which can lead to higher levels of fuel poverty. By creating fairer and more sustainable heating options, we can help to create cleaner air, increase access to affordable heating, and lower CO2 emissions.

Currently, BHESCo is working with 5 rural communities across the South-East of England – empowering them to take control of their heating by proposing heat networks powered by clean, renewable, proven, and affordable technologies.

In Crowhurst, East Sussex, we are collaborating with local community energy co-operative Energise Sussex Coast on the Warmer Crowhurst Clean Energy Project. This initiative is investigating how residents can access affordable, clean heat and has received a £40,000 grant from the government’s Rural Community Energy Fund.

Alongside the community-owned heat network, we are designing approaches where Crowhurst residents can improve their property’s ability to retain the lower temperature heat created by renewable energy systems. If we install a heat network without sufficient insulation in older homes, it’s not providing affordable heat, because the heat pump has to run longer to generate sufficient heat to keep the home warm and comfortable. We gain an understanding of the complete local energy infrastructure to deliver practical and sustainable, long-term solutions. We’re also looking at the possibility of installing local, community-owned energy generation, like solar panels, to power the heat pumps in a way that is affordable over the long term.

The response we have received from the communities we support has been incredibly positive. Generally, people want to get rid of their old oil boilers but are worried about the cost of a new solution. By working with an independent, not-for-profit, community-focused group they feel confident that we will prioritise both their needs and the local environment while providing optimum community benefit.

The UK has always been a leader in technology. As an innovative nation, we must lead by example on ways to tackle climate change. By getting clean, affordable solutions up and running as soon as possible we can inspire other nations to do more while demonstrating the economic benefits of clean energy technologies.

Our advice

Get Informed –
It’s really important to get good, accurate advice. There are a lot of misinformation when it comes to heat pumps and clean energy, so it’s important to talk to experts. Community Energy England is a great place to start.

Bring People with You –
Ultimately this is a community decision and it won’t work if you can’t bring people together. People are only going to come on board if they feel a project serves their interests, so it’s really important to understand local needs and priorities.

Our Metrics –
• Community investment.
• Local engagement.
• Reduction in local carbon emissions and energy bills.

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