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Moray-based AES Solar targets Buckingham Palace for next high profile job following Queen’s Award

George Goudsmit owner of AES Solar
George Goudsmit owner of AES Solar

AES Solar owner George Goudsmit has now set his sights on work at Buckingham Palace following his business being honoured with a Queen’s Award.

The Forres-based solar energy company has picked up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its excellence in Sustainable Development.

Mr Goudsmit’s company has already carried out work on Balmoral Estate but he’s now hoping to persuade the Royal family to install solar panels at Buckingham Palace.

It was a chance meeting in the Isles of Scilly that led to Mr Goudsmit persuading the Queen to install solar panels at Balmoral.

George Goudsmit, managing director of AES Solar, meeting the Queen. Pic supplied by Nigel Young.

He was in St Agnes to attend a party to celebrate the success of his daughter’s business, Little Island Chocolate, when he seized his opportunity to have a chat.

High hopes for Buckingham Palace work

The 80-year-old said has already been in touch with one of the chief engineers currently in charge of carrying out refurbishment works at the palace.

But his high aims for AES Solar does not end there – as Mr Goudsmit is planning on having a chat with the Prince of Wales when he collects the Queen’s Award in July.

He said: “I believe it is going to be Prince Charles that I have tea with and not Her Majesty so I am looking forward to taking the opportunity.

“I will congratulate him for all the good work he has done, especially in my favourite place the Scilly Isles.

The next logical step would be Buckingham Palace.”

George Goudsmit, AES Solar managing director

“But I will also be speaking to him about us carrying out work at Buckingham Palace.

“We are not giving up.

“Balmoral was a fantastic project for us and very high profile.

“The next logical step would be Buckingham Palace.

“Our main aim is to get as much solar energy into the UK or worldwide as possible.

“We believe it is very good for humanity and for energy poverty places generally.

“It’s always been our main aim.”

Turnover exceeding expectations

AES Solar is the oldest solar energy company in Western Europe and one of 225 organisations across the UK to be recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

L-R Ops manager Stuart Engleman, George Goudsmit and commercial director Jamie Di Sotto with the rest of the team. Pic by Jason Hedges

The company, which has an annual turnover of £3.1 million and manufactures solar thermal panels – the AES Luminary – has enjoyed a very successful start to the year with turnover already exceeding that of 2021.

Workforce numbers have also increased from 22 to 32 in the past 12 months.

Mr Goudsmit said: “We are inundated and can’t believe all the business we are getting.

“We have doubled the size of our company in the past two years and already we are at the end of quarter one for 2022 and have exceeded the whole of last year’s turnover.

“It’s just very amazing.

“I think it’s the biggest honour you can get in the industry within the UK.

“When I received the email with the good news I said hooray. It was just fantastic.

“It’s something I’ve been hoping for ever since I’ve been in business because I know how important it is.

“This can transform the company.”

Continue on net zero journey

AES Solar has also installed solar panels on the Scottish Parliament and the off-grid eco dwelling named RIBA House of the Year/Grand Designs in 2018.

The company has 5% of both the UK solar thermal market and the Scottish microgeneration solar PV market.

Mr Goudsmit said: “We are over the moon to have this recognition of our work and our wider contribution to sustainability and tackling climate change.

“I want to thank everybody in the business – we have been in this together and we all care passionately about what we do and how we can do it in as sustainable a way as possible.

“So this award is very much for the whole team. We hope our success might encourage others to consider their own journey to Net Zero.”

Several key roles in industry

Mr Goudsmit, who has also received a lifetime achievement award at the Storage and Solar Awards, took over AES Solar from founder Lyle Schnadt in 1989.

The business was primarily part of the Findhorn Foundation – an eco-village in Moray – before it moved to the neighbouring town of Forres.

Mr Goudsmit has held several roles in the UK solar industry over the past 30 years.

He was appointed a board member of the Solar Trade Association, now Solar Energy UK, and was part of its senior management team for 20 years.

He also played key roles in the founding of the Scottish Solar Energy Group, Scottish Renewables, Solar Cities Scotland, and Seda Solar – the solar branch of the Scottish Ecological Design Association.

AES ‘flying the flag’ for solar energy

Local MP Douglas Ross said: “AES Solar are a remarkable Moray company providing great career opportunities for local people and flying the flag for solar energy in particular and sustainable development in general.

“I was very happy to support their application and I’m delighted they have won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead added his congratulations.

He said: “It’s great to see a local company doing so well, particularly one which has been part of the Moray economy for so long.

“AES Solar were committed to sustainable development years before most of us were even aware of climate changes issues so this is really well deserved.

“Well done to all the team at AES Solar.”