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From BA Accounting and Finance student to solar energy entrepreneur

BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance graduate Alessandra Lopes talks about starting her own business which received support from LSBU's Graduate Entrepreneurship scheme

The Paris Agreement on climate change, negotiated during the summer of 2016, saw a number of countries agree to take large steps towards limiting the amount of carbon dioxide they produce in a bid to prevent widespread, irreversible damage to the planet.

Many were surprised when Brazil, the largest emitter of CO2 in Latin America, committed to cutting emissions by 37% by 2025, but the government there is determined to play its part. “Our government is concerned about the future,” said President Michel Temer as he signed the agreement. “Everything we do today is not aimed at tomorrow, but rather at a future that preserves the living conditions of Brazilians.”

Tapping into the Brazilian renewable energy market

An LSBU backed venture, Luz Consultancy run by LSBU graduate Alessandra Lopes and her co-founder Fergal McEntee, is helping Brazilian businesses do their bit in contributing to these ambitious targets, by attracting UK investment into Brazilian solar energy projects.

“Brazil is pretty good at producing some forms of renewable energy – especially hydro-electric power,” says Alessandra. “But the solar power industry in Brazil is still in its infancy – despite the fact that it gets twice as much sunshine as most European countries.”

A simple business model

Alessandra’s business model is simple, she brings together UK investors and Brazilian businesses. The UK investors contribute to the cost of installing solar power systems on premises owned by the Brazilian businesses, they then sell the electricity generated by the system back to the company.

Solar energy is a win win

“Everyone wins,” says Alessandra. “The Brazilian business benefits from electricity that is cheaper than buying from the grid, while the UK investors will see a full return on their investment within five to seven years. The rest of the 20-year agreement will see the investors making a clear profit on every bill.”

A business with a social conscience

Luz Consultancy would like to take their mission one step further, installing a smaller system at a school for every business installation they are funded to make. “It will help teach the new generation of Brazilians about climate change and renewable energy,” says Alessandra. “It’s something that’s really important to me. We can’t deny that climate change is happening now – the evidence is all around us,” she says.

Building a better future

“When I first considered getting involved in the scheme, it was all about the numbers – I’m a businesswoman first and foremost. However, helping to preserve the planet and slow climate change is something that I feel is really important. I’m a mother now, and might even become a grandmother one day. I ask myself what kind of planet will my grandchildren have in 50 or 60 years’ time?”

Alessandra is optimistic that the future is bright.

Alessandra received business support from LSBU’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Scheme. Read more about the business support on offer at LSBU.