Lewes energy company Ovesco wins top award

Harvesting the power of the sun: Up on the roof at Brickyard Farm, Barcombe, to see the solar PV panels
Harvesting the power of the sun: Up on the roof at Brickyard Farm, Barcombe, to see the solar PV panels

The Ouse Valley Energy Services Company in Lewes has been named as the winner of the 2014 Armstrong Ashden Award for Community Energy.

The triumph was announced at the Ashden Awards Ceremony at the Royal Geographic Society in London, where OVESCO received a prize of £10,000.

The community energy company gives local residents the opportunity to take a stake in locally generated renewable energy.

Formed by members of Transition Town Lewes in 2007, the company has installed solar panels on the roofs of two schools, a farm, a nursery and a depot of Harveys Brewery, with more than 250 shareholders benefitting.

With impressive plans for expansion, OVESCO is also dedicated to passing its know-how on to other community energy groups across Southern England as part of a government initiative designed to scale up locally owned and generated energy.

Ashden judges commented: “OVESCO is at the forefront of the community energy revolution. We were particularly impressed with its commitment to passing on its technical and practical know-how to other community energy organisations, which will really help the sector develop.”

Chris Rowland, Director at OVESCO, said: “This is fantastic news for OVESCO and the groups we are supporting through Community Energy South.

“The Ashden Award network brings new opportunities to help OVESCO scale up and make the transition to supplying locally owned, decentralised renewable energy. We want to see communities generate their own energy as part of a low-carbon future in the UK, and the Ashden Awards already prove that this is starting to benefit communities all over the world.

“It’s simply amazing to be part of a global movement that could totally change the way we think about where our energy comes from, and about the need to use it wisely.”

The runner-up in this category was London-based charity Pure Leapfrog, leveraging social investment and professional support to community energy projects in the UK.

Now in their 14th year, the Ashden Awards celebrate pioneering businesses and organisations that are helping tackle climate change and improve people’s lives.

OVESCO has run two over-subscribed share offers, raising more than £441,000; five solar PV installations have been completed so far, totalling 191 kWp; annual electricity generation is about 185MWh, saving 110 tonnes of CO2 per year; and more than 250 investors are earning a four per cent dividend on their shares.