The Hive connects to energy co-operatives
20 November 2018
Thanks to The Hive, SELCE now produces renewable energy for schools across South East London.
The Hive is a nationwide programme of support for anyone wishing to set-up or grow a co-operatively run organisation. It’s created by Co‑operatives UK in partnership with The Co‑operative Bank, who continues to support the programme, having just committed £1.3 million until the end of 2020.
The Hive offers advice and training opportunities to groups at different stages of setting up or developing their co-operative. From peer mentoring, resources and advice, to tailored co-operative training sessions.
Together, The Hive connects like-minded people, innovators and groups, giving them support they need to succeed.
One of those organisations that was approached to help with The Hive’s mentoring programme was a community energy co-operative based in South East London.
South East London Community Energy Co-operative (SELCE) was formed by residents from the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich. The co-operative owns seven solar arrays that produce a total of 290,000kWh of clean green solar electricity, sited on seven schools across South East London. The schools buy the energy, saving them money and enabling them to do their bit for the environment too.
Using a social enterprise model and a combination of grant funding, SELCE hold informal get-togethers like their popular energy advice cafes, where local residents can sit down and talk with SELCE about their energy usage. They’ll help them find cheaper energy suppliers and discuss ways to reduce their bills.
They’re currently working with the local authority and the Retrofit Work co-operative to help low income households access grant funding to insulate homes or replace old boilers.
How did the Hive help?
In 2016, SELCE got the opportunity to share their expertise and experience with a neighbouring London energy co-operative.
Lambeth-based Sustainable Energy 24 (SE24) had applied to a peer mentor scheme from The Hive. They wanted help with an ambitious new solar energy project, so they were partnered with SELCE.
The fit was perfect, as they met and shared their knowledge and learnings. This helped Sustainable Energy 24 avoid making the same mistakes. They embraced change with new initiatives and the whole process gave them a renewed confidence and sense of purpose.
“Mentoring proved to be an extremely interesting and rewarding two-way learning process. We are two neighbouring energy co-operatives who have formed a long-term alliance and we continue to work together to share insights and learning.”
Giovanna Speciale, SELCE
Read more case studies from The Hive