CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Warming to benefits of solar power

Client: TXU Europe and Greenpeace

Client: TXU Europe and Greenpeace

Campaign: Launch of Solarnet

PR team: In-house

Timescale: 26 April - ongoing

Budget: undisclosed

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

Press Association.

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.’

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