Chancellor, Juliet Davenport, OBE, is the founder and Non-executive Director of Good Energy. She is also a climate scientist, a renewable energy pioneer, a businesswoman, an environmental activist, an entrepreneur and a climate change and sustainability communicator and advocate. At a time when energy provision, security and prices are of critical importance and barely ever out of the news, we can be thankful for Juliet’s tenacity and foresight, and that Juliet has spent more than 20 years changing the face of electricity provision in the UK.
Before it was mainstream, Juliet Davenport understood the issues associated with climate change and need for the renewable technologies. In the UK today, renewables make up approximately 40% of our annual electricity provision, with low carbon energy sources contributing up to 90% of the provision on some days. In 1999, when Juliet set up the UK’s first 100% renewable energy suppliers, Good Energy, the situation was very different, with renewables only making up 2% of our electricity provision. Good Energy remains one of the biggest and most successful renewable energy companies in the UK and has paved the way for several more renewable energy suppliers to enter the market.
By putting her skills and talent into creating Good Energy, Juliet has spent more than 20 years not just advocating for solutions to climate change, but actively creating them. However, her path wasn’t always easy. When she initially tried to get a license to sell electricity, she was told she needed three years of published accounts – impossible for a start-up. Everything was geared up for the incumbent (fossil based) providers. Not only did Juliet need to provide and sell the electricity – she needed to change the whole system. She did this by initially working with customers –one of the first examples of crowdfunding in the UK. She focused on those involved with microgeneration and slowly built her business by backing small power generators. It is hard to imagine the change over the last twenty years, where we now have multiple energy providers and a significant decarbonisation of our electricity system.
Juliet is clearly an innovator and leader in renewable energy supply. She is also passionate about communication, climate change and sustainable living – something that is critical to all. She leads the “Great Green Questions” podcast where she answers all sorts of questions about sustainable living and how social media, flying and racism all intersect with sustainability success.
Her initial degrees in Physics, including atmospheric physics and later economics have clearly helped her understand climate change and how to go about making change. In 2013 she was awarded an OBE for her services to the renewable sector.
As we look around the world today and see the impact of wars and the climate crisis on energy demand and provision, we know that the work Juliet has done over the last 23 years has been critical. We all need to learn from her example, her vision, and her tenacity. Our electricity supply is better for her. We have many challenges yet to face with energy security and climate change, but we know that the work Juliet has done has changed the industry. She is an innovator whose contribution to climate action over the last two decades is among the greatest in the UK. Today she is a figurehead for climate change action.
She is a role model for us all, but she is a particular role model for women, who are under-represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Chancellor, I present to you, Juliet Davenport, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.