They might be small in name, but The Little Green Energy Company has plans that are set to transform the way the island powers itself.
In its eight years in operation, the company has supplied and/ or installed over an impressive one megawatt of solar systems and more than 500kWh of battery storage systems. Now, with a licence to generate power – opening up the electricity market in Guernsey – the future for the island is looking cleaner and greener.
With a key board appointment earlier this year, the Little Green Energy Company is in a fantastic position to build and grow the renewable energy sector across the Bailiwick.
Bob Beebe, who took up position as CEO in April, has a wealth of experience in ‘all things energy’. It’s all he’s ever known.
As a young boy, Bob recalls being enthralled by how things worked – taking them apart and rebuilding them. So it was a natural career choice, after leaving school, to enter engineering.
It was 1976 and Bob was just 16 years old when he started work with the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), the national power provider for the UK before the privatisation of the electricity industry.
‘I love the way things work, it was a natural career choice for me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,’ said Bob, who is also an amateur radio enthusiast and keen Morse code operator.
‘I walked into my first power station when I was around 10 years old on an open day, and after that great day out I always wanted to be involved in something to do with electricity. At 16 my opportunity came and I fell in love with electricity and never looked back. I’ve worked for more than 45 years now in both small and large power plants as an apprentice, in technician roles, as well as engineering and management roles.
‘My young family and I moved to Guernsey in 1990, where I joined The States of Guernsey Electricity Board and spent nearly 25 years working with great people leading me to be operations director for the company.’
‘I love the way things work, it was a natural career choice for me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.’ Bob Beebe, CEO, The Little Green Energy Company.
After experiencing the early days of chain grate coal-fired power stations and large pulverised fuel plants, in 1986 Bob represented the CEGB on an exchange visit for a number of weeks to Sweden, visiting the national power company Vattenfall and working in the far north of the country in the arctic circle. It was obvious on the visit that way back then, renewables had started to take shape in the form of wind power and early solar photovoltaic (PV) systems there. It was only a matter of time that this technology would progress to what we see today in the energy world. So when Bob was approached by the Little Green Energy Company it was the logical move. He said he wants the business to be part of creating greater energy security and greater energy independence for Guernsey.
‘The Little Green Energy Company stands for everything I want for my children’s and my grandchildren’s futures. I’ll be the last generation buying internal combustion engine cars. My grandchildren will only be able to buy new electric vehicles when they’re old enough to drive,’ he said.
‘The Energy Policy [2020-2050] calls for greater independence in energy terms, competition in the market, choice for customers and we want to provide that. Our business plans take into account all of those factors. And we’re looking to develop those further in the next year or two.
‘We’re very aware that islanders want to be green. Look back 10 years ago, not many islanders took recycling seriously but now we are all recycling and thinking carefully about sustainable life choices. This is a significant transition that’s starting to take place in being aware of where your energy comes from, how you can make Guernsey a better place to live, providing new initiatives in the green energy industry and providing job opportunities for islanders in the new green energy marketplace. We’re actually making a difference to Guernsey. I’m really looking forward to working with our team at Little Green in opening up the green marketplace even further to give more opportunity for islanders to be part of the renewable renaissance.’
So, what is it about the solar-powered system that makes it so special? Well, there are many things. Aside from its environmentally friendly benefits, it’s a smart, intuitive set-up which works with you and your home. Energy is gathered via solar panels on your homes roof and turned into electricity used in your home.
‘If you’re out all day you won’t be able to use it yourself, so you’ll be selling back to the grid supporting the island. Thousands of people connected together in a holistic smart grid system,’ said Bob, who added that additional renewable battery storage systems, like Tesla Powerwall, allows you to store renewable energy that you have generated for release when necessary.
‘Powerwall is very clever. It’s not just a battery storage system. It’s a Tesla product, it’s state-of-the-art. It learns and follows what your consumption patterns are, and it uses the solar energy from the solar PV system, and it charges itself up.
‘That electricity is released at an appropriate time for your household. Many Powerwalls are fully charged by lunchtime in the summertime, so then they then divert their energy to things like immersion water heaters and charging your electric vehicles. It’s about using the renewable solar energy to the max and storing it for release later. With the combination of the solar panels and Tesla Powerwall you take control of your own energy and you can manage it and release it into different systems, including electric vehicle charging.’
‘Powerwall is very clever. It’s not just a battery storage system. It’s a Tesla product, it’s state-of-the-art. It learns and follows what your consumption patterns are, and it uses the solar energy from the solar PV system, and it charges itself up.’ Bob Beebe
Probably one of the best things about solar-powered energy and Powerwall storage is that power outages also become a thing of the past. If the local electricity network does go down for any reason, Powerwall will keep your house supplied until the network comes back on.
As we continue our journey towards 2050, with the move away from hydrocarbons, consumers are going to be using more and more electricity. The Guernsey Energy Policy 2020-2050 aims to manage that transition, with electricity consumption in Guernsey predicted to go up by 30%-40%. With everyone connected together on the energy network system with renewable energy solar PV and battery storage systems deployed, these are the beginnings of smart grid technology for our island.
‘The solar PV system and Powerwall energy storage is all part of that journey,’ said Bob.
Everyone at The Little Green Energy Company is relishing the energy future and wants to do the very best they can to make Guernsey a greener, cleaner island. Let the renaissance begin.