Fighting for a cleaner, greener future

Juliet Davenport OBE (MSc Economics, 1994) reflects on her inspirations for innovating in renewable energy and motivation for re-visiting her education at Birkbeck.

Since founding one the UK’s leading renewable energy suppliers in 2000, Juliet Davenport has had a tremendous impact on the way we use clean energy sources. However, as a young girl, Juliet explains she wasn’t much of an ‘environmentalist’. “I actually grew up in a very high carbon atmosphere. My father was involved in motorsport, so I was around a lot of race cars and rally driving.” It wasn’t until she was studying her first degree in atmospheric physics that she became aware of “how extraordinary our planet is, in terms of how we haven’t yet found another one like it.” Her studies highlighted how humans were detrimentally changing the earth’s atmosphere with CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. This inspired Juliet to set up clean power supplier Good Energy: “I’m passionate about it because it is pretty fundamental to our future.”

Setting up the business was a challenging experience, but Juliet can now see how far the organisation has come. “It was almost like being on the cliff edge and having to jump off and be confident that you could do it. I now look back up the cliff and just go ‘wow’.”

“It was almost like being on the cliff edge and having to jump off… I now look back up the cliff and just go ‘wow’.”

Since inception, Good Energy have repowered one of the first commercial wind farms in the UK, pioneered support for generating renewable power in people’s homes, launched a recent ‘greenwashing’ education campaign to raise awareness about company’s false or disingenuous sustainability claims, and lobbied for greater regulation of the green product market to stop the sharing of misleading information. For Juliet, her motivation is to find solutions to climate change and empower others to be part of the conversation to create change.

Juliet embarked on an MSc in Economics at Birkbeck in 1992 to equip herself with a broader set of skills. “Once I started studying at Birkbeck, I didn’t have any regrets because I loved it. Studying economics gave me the opportunity to develop my analysis skills, with the degree touching both business and academia.” She speaks highly of her time studying, describing the Birkbeck community as interesting and supportive, in an environment where students’ opinions are valued and respected as equal to academics. “There was always a two-way conversation with the tutors, and it was brilliant because many of the students had varied perspectives which they were happy to share, so you learnt from everyone in the room.”

Juliet describes her Birkbeck experience as ‘challenging, provocative and liberating’.