Fair share

R-ECO says it is the UK’s only co-operative installer of renewable energy systems. Claire Martin explains

As a worker-owned co-operative, R-ECO creates meaningful and sustainable employment with every employee owning an equal stake in the business and having a say into how the business is run. This model is unique in the market place and this resilient and progressive approach to business has given R-ECO three times the market share of the national average for solar energy installation companies. (R-ECO has installed over 400KW of solar PV throughout the UK to date –  0.12 per cent of the national installed solar PV capacity.

As a co-operative, R-ECO ensures business objectives are not just focused upon “watering-down” customer interaction and pushy “double glazing ” sales techniques. Instead time is  invested in ensuring customers receive a personalised and thorough experience, taking into account their short and long term needs. R-ECO acknowledges that every project and every customer is unique and our goal is to create a service that our customers boast about.

As many people are aware, Feed-in Tariffs have been subject to continuing cuts since the renewable energy ‘boom’ over the last couple of years but unlike many renewable energy companies, R-ECO has expanded and grown despite these significant government challenges beyond its control. R-ECO now employs over 20 core full-time staff and has over 15 part time or sub-contracted staff. This is a vast change from 2008 when R-ECO was born as a virtual ‘office’ and as a result of 4 four people’s desires to offer a wholesome renewable energy service not only to its customers but also as a company structure.

For R-ECO, the last few years have seen a shift in the market demand for solar PV; from mainly private household installations eager to cash-in on FiTs, to large-scale commercial, agricultural and importantly community-orientated projects. This year will see a shift again into the diversification of renewable technologies to include solar thermal, wind and biomass and in line with the new government’s requirements for buildings to meet a certain level of energy efficiency; the offering energy assessments and consultancy.

Community involvement has become an integral part of R-ECO’s company ethos, not only from a co-operative point of view but also as method of offering advice, education and support to communities who wish to make their own decisions about independent energy sources.

R-ECO is actively involved in Transition Towns and community events, and has just completed a large solar PV installation on Gloucester Resource centre as part of Transition Cheltenham, fitting a 44Kw roof arrays in under a week. The efficiency of R-ECO’s installation has become renowned in the renewable energy market; completing a collective 147Kw solar install over three of Cornwall College’s campuses in under two weeks. This project was also an example of R-ECO’s desire to create sustainable business, as 20 additional PV panels were donate to the college after installation for students to learn more about renewable technologies.  R-ECO continues to be involved in commercial community projects and is proud to be a part of Heartlands; a new 32 million pound community based development and World Heritage site in Cornwall where 64Kw has been installed; contributing to its carbon neutral status.

R-ECO continues to be a part of the growing community renewable energy movement, at the forefront of renewable energy technologies and prepared for government curveballs. In addition this year will see R-ECO gearing up to offer the government instigated Energy Assessment, ensuring that buildings have to meet a suitable standard before renewable energy systems can be installed