Client: TXU Europe and Greenpeace
Campaign: Launch of Solarnet
PR team: In-house
Timescale: 26 April - ongoing
TXU is one of the world’s top ten energy suppliers with a stated
corporate aim of producing ten per cent of its energy capacity from
renewable sources by 2010.
To encourage households to install solar panels on their roofs, TXU
through Eastern Energy, its retail arm in the UK, introduced Solarnet, a
ground-breaking deal, with the support of Greenpeace.
Under the deal, for the first time in the UK people with solar panels
can be paid the same price for the surplus electricity they ’export’ to
the National Grid during daylight hours as they pay for any conventional
electricity ’imported’ at night. Previously, exporters of solar power
received only a third of the price for the power they generated against
that they bought in.
Calculations are carried out by net metering whereby a customer’s
standard electricity meter is modified to record the number of exported
When the meter is read, imported units are charged for and a rebate is
paid to the customer for units that are exported, at the same unit
For TXU, the objective is to gain publicity for the launch of Solarnet
to encourage 1,000 households to have solar panels fitted. Greenpeace is
campaigning for the Government to make solar net metering law and give
real support to the solar industry.
Strategy and plan
Since their goals were ultimately the same, TXU enlisted the support of
Greenpeace to launch the deal and endorse it and the two in-house PR
teams worked closely together.
Greenpeace had worked in the past with Homerton Grove Adventure
Playground in East London which became the capital’s first solar
electric building in 1996. Since that time, the playground had not been
paid a single penny by its previous utility for its surplus solar
It was felt that the playground would offer good photo opportunities for
the launch of the deal and Eastern Energy decided to pay the playground
pounds 250 to compensate for money lost to its previous supplier.
National newspaper journalists and photographers were invited to attend
the launch on 26 April and Ian Taylor, Greenpeace’s renewable energy
campaigner was put forward for radio and television interviews.
Measurement and Evaluation
Unfortunately it was raining on the day of the launch so television and
photo coverage was minimal. However press coverage appeared in the
Guardian and the Times and the story was also ran by Reuters and the
Ian Taylor was interviewed on BBC Choice and News Direct and on the LBC
and London Live breakfast radio shows.
Eastern Energy is prepared for people to take up the offer slowly, but
as far as Greenpeace is concerned the deal itself is already a major
step forward for its campaign.
’At a stroke this deal is breaking one of the barriers to solar power,’
says Greenpeace’s Taylor. ’We can now go to the Government and the other
energy companies and say that there is no reason why they can’t do this
’It also provides an incentive for TXU to move even further ahead of
other companies, so we can continue to endorse it.’