My story: Andy Molloy describes his journey from corporate engineer to community eco-activist

Andy Molloy

I am a mechanical engineer and I have maintained an enthusiastic interest for machines and mechanisms from an early age.

Whether dismantling clocks or building steam engines and high-performance internal combustion engines, I’ve always had a curiosity about how things work.

But more than that I was keen to discover why one solution is more appropriate at a given time than any other.

With progress from engineering delivery into roles with more management focus, I became interested in what motivates stakeholders to support development and deployment of one solution above another.

I observed that the most acute influence for progress of any unfamiliar technology within a particular group comes when individual or corporate ability to satisfy physiological or security needs become threatened.

Working within the “Blue Chip World” of multi-national corporations, it became clear to me that that there was little opportunity for a fresh look at the market for good value energy services.

The received opinion on sources of capital finance and debt remain as they have always been along with the constraints of accounting conventions.

Meanwhile, our community has an untapped seam of opportunity to reduce energy costs in business, and a wealth of small deposits from small investors that are earning poor returns from the banks.

It seemed an obvious solution to create a social enterprise that encourages small investors in our community of Basingstoke and Deane to invest directly in measures to reduce energy costs for local business.

In developing, the Basingstoke Community Energy Fund Society, we have created a local solution that can support local business and community projects while paying good rates of interest to our local people.

Given that we tend to only try something new when the old order of things is seen to be failing, I judged that the time was right to draw on untapped local resources.

I feel community funding provides an effective alternative to the failing banks and greed of conventional financial markets. Perhaps more significant is the opportunity of using marginal land to generate power from local resources.

Matching a source of community funding with large roofs and other marginal land could produce a truly sustainable business on our doorstep based on renewable energy generation from solar PV, solar thermal and heat pumps.

The combination of economic motivators along with a quest for a more sustainable local focus and broader community engagement motivated me to change my objectives.

Working with my two fellow founder members, we formed the Basingstoke Energy Services Co-operative.

The measure of our success will be quantified by the rate at which local people and business take up the challenge to create a more sustainable economy in Basingstoke and Deane.

This article first appeared in the Basingstoke Gazette.