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Six Brits chosen to front campaign showcasing nation’s home-grown energy generation efforts

TV presenter Julia Bradbury has helped to launch a new campaign to highlight the efforts of British energy heroes generating their own electricity. 

Six Brits, including families, that are generating solar energy and an employee at a company generating energy from waste, have been chosen to be the faces of the campaign.

Smart Energy GB – in collaboration with Bradbury – has selected six passionate British energy heroes to front a new campaign showcasing innovative ways Great Britain’s energy can be produced and used now and, in the future.

This follows research which reveals that Brits are unsure about where their energy comes from, with 38 per cent of people saying our electricity is generated in the UK, whereas it is a huge 93 per cent.

Three in 10 (30 per cent) say they feel disconnected from how energy is made in Great Britain and a further quarter (25 per cent) admit they do not understand how energy makes it into our homes.

From harnessing energy from human waste to families generating solar power at home and selling back to the grid, these powerful pioneers have shared how they’re playing their part in generating and managing energy with the help of a smart meter.

TV presenter Bradbury commented: “In the UK, we generate a whopping 93% of the electricity we need. Just like the farmers who are putting food on our tables, it is great to see that our chosen British energy heroes – much like others up and down the country – are passionate about harnessing wind, solar and hydropower and putting power into the grid, our homes and industries.

“But doing more will help us to reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuels like gas, which we turn to when there are peaks in demand.

“Smart meters help to more accurately predict where and when the energy produced by these hard-working Brits will be needed, and better manage the system to cope with issues like surges in demand or power cuts.”

Smart meters help to more accurately predict where and when the energy produced by these hard-working Brits will be needed, and better manage the system to cope with issues like surges in demand or power cuts.

Victoria Bacon, Director at Smart Energy GB commented: “In launching this campaign – supported by people who’re involved in generating the power we use – we’re hoping to give Brits a better understanding of where our energy comes from and how it gets to us, because that can affect how expensive and environmentally-friendly it is. Whilst we cannot all generate our own energy, one thing we can do to help make the most of the renewable energy – such as wind and solar – generated in Great Britain, is to get a smart meter. This will ensure we can better manage the energy generated and keep bills as affordable as possible.”

The chosen six heroes are –

Aimee Konieczny, Beccles

Aimee, an Energy Consultant who lives with her husband and three dogs, installed 8kW of solar panels on her house in January 2022 to help reduce energy bills – a move which she says has been helpful in combating the energy price rises.

She commented, “Even on a dull day – let alone a sunny one – our solar panels generate enough energy to help power our home, reducing our bills and pressure on the national grid. Knowing what goes into generating energy has meant I’m keen to ensure we manage it efficiently. The in-home display that comes with our smart meter helps us keep track of what energy we’re using at home and the smart meter itself helps Britain’s energy system be more resilient by more accurately predicting when and where energy will be needed. This means we’ll help to play a small part in reducing Great Britain’s dependence on gas imported from abroad.”

Tony Rutherford, Northumberland

Tony is a Treatment Works Manager at Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), where he has worked for over 20 years, and is currently working on one of the largest of its kind waste-to-energy generators in the UK.

Tony said: “We are the first, and are still the only, water company to use 100 per cent of the sludge from wastewater treatment to create energy, literally Power From Poo. We process around two million cubic metres of sludge to generate 10MW of energy, enough to power around 20,000 homes. In addition to this, the leftover material is then transported to be used as fertiliser, ensuring there is no waste at all. Prior to this project, sewage sludge was a waste product that needed a lot of energy to clean up so this transformation really is amazing.

“Smart meters in our homes and businesses will boost Great Britain’s energy security. They play a part in enabling us to use more renewable, home-grown energy which means we can be more independent in the future and rely less on gas imported from abroad.”

Emily Hinshelwood, Ammanford, Wales

Emily is the lead on a project named Hwb y Gors. The organisation, Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) bought the former Cwmgors Primary School and are refurbishing it as a Zero-Carbon Arts, Education and Enterprise Centre.

Emily says, “Since purchasing the building in 2018, we have installed 30kW of rooftop solar and a ground source heat pump. Overall, it has been estimated that at least 75 per cent of our electricity and 100 per cent of our heat will be generated onsite, meaning our heating costs will likely be at least 50 per cent cheaper than would be possible with a new gas heating system. Smart meters are essential in helping us better manage the energy we produce, enabling us to use more renewable, home-grown energy for a more independent future. We’re proud to be playing our part and investing in a more resilient energy system for Great Britain.”

Elinor Chambers, Dundee 

Elinor is a Clinical Lecturer from Leuchers, near St Andrews who was encouraged by her parents to get a smart meter and is now using solar panels to generate power at home and charge her EV.

She commented, “Now that I’ve started generating my own energy and making my house more energy efficient, I can feel it becoming slightly addictive – I’d love to add even more solar panels and get battery storage for my house. It’s great to know that I’m helping Great Britain’s energy security and I’d encourage everyone to get a smart meter as they help us to use more renewable, home-grown energy like solar, which means we can be more independent in the future and rely less on gas imported from abroad.”

Shirley Paterson, Fife

Shirley is a member of the Energy Saving Trust for Scotland Green Homes Network home since 2012 and also runs her own business consulting individual households in their area on how to lower their energy consumption and bills.

Shirley has volunteered for the Energy Saving Trust for Scotland since 2012, with her family home on their Green Homes Network.  She is a Domestic Energy Assessor and runs a micro-business that assesses energy efficiency of homes which supports householders to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and importantly lower bills.

Shirley says, “My solar panels, fitted in 2011 to generate electricity, have excelled. I learnt so much about electricity generation and consumption from having an in-home display (IHD) monitor– it’s been an absolute key!  The solar panels also help fuel the family’s electric vehicles, with minimal impact on the grid, either during generating hours, or around midnight.  The smart meter’s handy monitor helps us manage consumption, showing how much energy is being used throughout the day.”

Andy Maybury, Hawick

Andy is an engineer who has transformed his house into a green and energy efficient home capable of helping to balance the grid. His house was the first to achieve ‘SuperHome’ status in Scotland, due to the adaptations that Andy has installed—many of them himself.

Andy says, “Ensuring the efficiency of energy use in my home has been a focus of mine for many years. We have fitted rooftop solar, a ventilation system with a heat exchanger, a ‘diverter’ and thermal store. We also use an electricity contract that gives us half-hourly billing so we can see when the grid is stressed or the electricity price is low. We should all have pride in the energy that we produce in Great Britain and information is the key. Smart meters play a vital role in recording accurate data for, ultimately, the national grid, helping to create a more resilient energy system that optimises renewable energy generation and allows it to adapt to the needs of our nation.”

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