Our company turns eight years old (Nov 24, 2023)

8 years old today!

Eight years ago to the day, I registered Solar Options for Schools Ltd as a company. The plan was to develop an online platform to bring installers, investors and schools together, so schools everywhere around the world could have solar panels and students could learn about energy and decarbonisation. In effect: “Decarbonisation education funded by the sun”.

Everyone thought it was a lovely idea; to fund solar on schools and educate students, while saving schools money and cutting carbon. It was ‘a no brainer’. So I quickly raised some pre-seed funding to test the idea.

In reality it has taken a lot longer than we all expected, despite my years of experience as VC who knew that everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as set out in the hundreds of business plans I had reviewed over the years.

We have had good and bad luck. We survived the ending of UK solar subsidies, EU import tariffs on solar panels, accademisation of UK schools, Brexit, loss of value in the UK pound and Covid. But lucky to have access to funding from patient investors and friends, the growing team and our supportive families to give us time.

Time to test ideas, fail, learn and survive long enough for luck to come our way again. Greta Thurnberg and Friday-for-the-Future raised awareness, but sadly it appears to have been Putin invading the Ukraine and causing a huge energy price spike, that has driven uptake for solar far faster than any environmental campaign.

Sebastian one of my brothers, reminds me that becoming an 'overnight success' actually takes years. More schools joined us this year than the total over the previous 7 years.

This is both exciting and depressing.

Depressing that it took so long to reach the first 70 schools, but very exciting that by the time we become 9 years old we could be managing solar on over 300 schools and although that represents just 0.01% of all schools worldwide, it is very exciting that the lessons learnt, software written and funding mechanisms developed, will have been proven in a handful of countries and can then be really scaled through partners globally.

Installing solar on over 3 millions schools worldwide will require many local partners and over £120bn of infrastructure investment, but will save schools 2-3x that sum, while delivering relatively safe returns to investors and cutting carbon by 50m tonnes of CO2 a year.

Yet the CO2 reduction from teaching students about energy, carbon and what they can do to help society decarbonise is up to 100x greater. There are nearly 2bn young people on this planet, they each have to persuade just 3 adult relatives to change their use of energy to make a massive difference.

Thank you to all who have been part of this journey so far.

If you would like to be part of this story and invest to help more schools go solar, and educate more young people on energy and decarbonisation, take a look at: https://lnkd.in/ePZ9TwmH

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