UWE, in partnership with Business West, runs an annual lecture series that brings top business leaders to Bristol. We caught up with Juliet Davenport OBE, CEO of Good Energy, before she gave her address:
1. What is the concept of Good Energy?
Good Energy is an aspiration to transform the energy market and the way we use energy in the UK.
I set it up many years ago as a challenge: to take a dirty pool of energy and make it greener. That’s what we’re here for.
And we did it by putting the customer at the heart of everything, by building our business around the needs of homes and businesses, and helping them to be transformational as a result of where they buy their electricity from.
2. Where does the energy you supply come from at Good Energy?
We started off by working with lots of small independent generators, and because we were a small independent supply company, we’ve continued to build on that.
Today, we work with about 1400 renewable generators across the UK, which generate power using anything from agricultural waste to solar power, wind power and hydropower.
We then buy that power, use the grid to transport it and deliver it to people’s homes.
3. It isn’t easy being green - even though it is something that we all aspire to - so how successful have you been at getting your message across?
I think that we’ve helped influence the green agenda in different ways.
I think that we’ve successfully got the message out to quite a few people by saying: you can make a difference as an individual and be part of a wider group of people buying renewables, who are really making a difference across the UK.
But also I think we’ve influenced the way the industry works itself. It’s now more accepting of smaller generation.
We were quite fundamental in the shift to people generating power in their own homes, which was a real change in the mind-set of the energy industry, they never thought it was possible.
We helped make this happen.
I think we’re about to go through a big transition and I think awareness amongst people is going to become much greater and more exciting. People get very excited when they can slightly take control – when it becomes more than just a bill, more than just a switch in energy supplier.
If you start generating power yourself or you buy an electric car and you start changing the way you travel it really changes people’s mind-sets, and they get excited about different things, they get excited when the sun shines because they’re generating power!
So I think some of those (practical changes) are much more powerful in spreading the message than just talking about it.
4. As you mention, being able to sell your power back to the grid really caught people’s attention. Why?
I have a vision where every home in the UK has the ability to generate its own power.
That would be amazing because suddenly you’re completely transforming the way that the energy industry works in the UK – the industry is not completely in control anymore. Individuals become controlling of their own energy.
If you transported that model all across Europe it would be extraordinary; I think technology can help bring about an amazing transformation.
5. If you’re a student interested in this sector, what advice can you give on how to make a mark when they graduate?
First of all find out what your passion is, because if you want to make a mark you have to be really determined.
Think, what are we doing today that is helping change to a new way tomorrow?
To make that transformation, you have to be really on it and prepared to work really hard to make it work.
That’s number 1 – be passionate about what you do, because it really helps.
Number 2 – you should think about where you want to be.
If you’re interested in consumers, then you should be thinking about what the consumers of the future will need.
Are they going to be trading power? Probably not, but they might want an app to trade power for them, for example.
So you start to put yourself in the shoes of the people you might be designing or building things for and helping them become part of this world.
Think of the people of the future and what are they going to be needing and how can we help them get there!
6. Is that what inspires you?
Yes! When I’m imagining things I can see the picture of the UK generating its own power; I can see individuals and how they do or don’t want to be involved, because most people don’t want to come home and have to do 2 hours of trading because they’ve got so much power! They want to let their home do the hard work.
So figuring out how we get this to work for people, so that it becomes part of the norm rather than something that’s really difficult – that’s what makes me passionate.
Trying to transform the energy marketplace with people not against them.
7. If there are two things I can do in my home to really make a difference what are they?
I’ll give you three, if you don’t mind.
You should always switch to a green supplier because green suppliers are always supporting renewable generation across the UK.
Look at your energy efficiency too. Get an energy efficiency audit done and see if there’s anything in your home that’s using too much energy.
If you can generate your own power, put a solar panel on your roof.
I’ve seen people’s lives transformed because they’re generating their own power and see what we can do with it.
This series of free public lectures brings top level business leaders to Bristol. You can discuss these events on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures and view further content from Juliet Davenport’s lecture here. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.