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Can solar panels really save the planet?

Renewable energy company Greenenviro Energy Systems Ltd (GES) opened
its doors for business ten months ago.  During that time its founding directors Marc Linch, David Lawrence and Richard Swords have seen it grow from a standing start with one office in Marks Tey, to sixacross the country and a staff of 50.

The company has been busy installing solar panels all over Great Britain as homeowners and
businesses take advantage of the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme.  This scheme, which rewards those generating electricity from a renewable energy source such as the sun, with an annual index-linked, tax free sum, was launched in April 2010 and runs for 25 years.

To discuss GES’s progress, contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets and plans for the future, the company invited opinion formers and green thinkers from the county, including Priti
Patel MP; the Mayor of Colchester, Councillor Helen Chuah; representatives from Colchester Borough Council; Essex Chambers of Commerce and Colchester Institute, to its Head Office in Marks Tey on Friday 24 June.  The theme was: “Can solar panels really save the planet?”

What was so great about the day is that everyone who attended felt a responsibility to do something.  No, not just about the appalling rise in energy bills, but about the environment too.  Talk of which, Marc Linch, director of GES, had some fairly interesting information on how the UK compares to other countries – and it’s not great: “We all know that the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change is carbon dioxide, and that the countries responsible for producing the most are China, USA, Russia, India and Japan.  But the UK is 8th, after Canada and Germany, which is fairly depressing given the size of those countries in comparison to ours.”

Marc pointed out that 43% of our carbon dioxide emissions come from the energy we use in our everyday activities at home.  The installation of solar panels will provide, on average, around 40% of a household’s electricity, and drastically cut down emissions.  Being more ‘electricity aware’ has another beneficial side-effect, households tend to become even more energy efficient.

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, followed on with some rather damning
statistics too:
“The country is committed to producing 15% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 and around a third of all electricity production from renewables by 2020. But the legacy the current Government has inherited is one where just 6.7% of electricity
generated comes from renewable sources, despite hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being poured into various schemes and programmes.  Other countries have moved ahead of Britain and against this backdrop, this makes your success even more admirable.  In fact, we need more businesses like these to get a foothold into the market so that Britain can once again be at the forefront of innovation and technology.”

Expansion is a double-edged sword; as GES grows, so do the number of miles its installers cover.  The company decided it needed to grow trees to offset these emissions and approached
Bob Penny, Parks & Recreation manager at Colchester Borough Council, with its ‘Make my parish green’ scheme.  As a result, in the Autumn GES will provide the funding for Colchester Borough Council to provide trees to town and parish councils.  This scheme will roll out to other councils to match the GES installation programme in the New Year.

Bob Penny, Parks & Recreation Manager, Colchester Borough Council,
actually loves tress, and is more than happy for GES to beome involved in
planting more of them:
“Through the ‘Make my Parish Green’ scheme and the support from GES we have the unique opportunity for Town and Parish Councils to work with local residents in creating a lasting legacy. Community tree planting not only helps deliver environmental benefits but participation is extremely rewarding and allows current and future generations to have ownership of the features they have created. Through partnerships such as these we can all benefit from a greener future.”

GES believes in giving something back to the community too and is also working with the Colchester Institute to develop its very first solar PV apprenticeship scheme, to give young people a start in one of the most dynamic industries around.

Rick Swords, managing director GES, said: “We all know that on its own, any environmental practice can only make a dent in the reduction of greenhouse gases.  To be truly effective, it has to work as part of a concerted effort, and that effort has to be consistent. We have to change, we have to make a difference and, frankly, there’s no time like the present.”

So can solar panels really save the planet?  The answer is no, not on their own, but it’s a start.  It will reduce carbon dioxide emissions while delivering a 6-9% return on investment.  This is one of the few instances where homeowners and businesses alike are faced with a win-win situation.

Congratulating GES, Priti Patel MP said: “Essex is the County of Entrepreneurs
and nowhere is this more accurately demonstrated than in the growth of this business. In just eight months, you have expanded to employ 50 staff, providing much needed and welcome local jobs.  I therefore applaud everyone at Greenenviro Energy Systems for the steps you are taking to protect the environment, create jobs and support economic growth.”

Before you get too excited, not all buildings will be suitable for Solar PV, but if your property is facing south, west or east it probably is; to know for sure, call GES on 0800 064 6014 or visit


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