Being an energy manager isn’t an easy task.
Convincing your board members to back an energy efficiency or renewable project takes months if not years. That’s especially true when it comes to asking for financial support.
In the current climate of low prices, renewable projects are harder to get off the ground plus the fact that most green projects involve lots of planning and consultation that can take years. So how do you pull it off?
That’s the key and last week I saw what happens when that process goes right. I was lucky enough to put on my waterproofs and join Thames Water’s energy manager Angus Berry as he oversaw the completion of Europe’s biggest floating solar farm.
Five years from conception to final delivery it is expected to start operating this month. A staggering 23,000 floating solar panels are being laid onto the water at the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Hampton Court. They will produce 5.8 million kilowatts per hour of electricity, enough to power 1,800 homes every year.
Angus and his team did something smart, use resources that are literally on tap, ahem. You’re a water company, you have lots of reservoirs, why not use them to generate power. No planning problems, no ‘nimby’ complaints easy eh?
Well not quite. Angus told me it was tough. Months of going back and forth with the proposal, getting the numbers right and convincing the board it was good value for consumers and the company.
And Angus says that’s the most important thing for all energy projects, make them pay: “It’s all about the numbers.”
He says where the money comes from can be a secondary thing, be it from the company itself or someone else – and in this case it is renewable energy firm Lightsource. They have picked up the cost of building the farm and will run a PPA with Thames for the upkeep.
With this farm Thames Water have made a big statement about self generation, sustainability and energy efficiency. It’s not been easy but it shows what an energy manager can do if given the backing.
So well done to Angus and all the others like him, who are battling to prove an energy manager is vital to an organisation.
I’m convinced they are needed, aren’t you?