The Big Lemon is a bottom-up social enterprise managing the first electric bus service powered by solar energy in Great Britain. The vision of the innovative project, that was born thanks to the insight of a group of inhabitants of Brighton in 2006, is that «by 2030 every community in the Uk has access to affordable, sustainable transport, using zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy and owned by the local community». In order to carry out this vision the innovative social enterprise is cooperating with the Brighton Energy Cooperative, using the English city as a pilot project.
In 2017 The Big Lemon won a bid to manage different bus lines in the Brighton area, that were before contracted by the municipality. Now the sustainable transport society manages six bus services and a great variety of coach lines on national scale.
For the first 10 years The Big Lemon has used recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants as fuel for its buses. Two years ago it has installed solar panels on the roofs of its deposit in Brighton, storing the energy in batteries and recharging the buses at night. Instead of buying new buses, the old ones, which are diesel-powered, are converted into electric buses. «This means that all bus lines will be zero-emissions, extremely silent and powered by renewable energies», explains the social venture from Brighton. The Big Lemon are one of the finalists of the prestigious Social Enterprise Awards 2018, organised by Social Enterprise Uk, the national body for social enterprise in Great Britain.
The social enterprise, that is famous for its friendly and kind staff, offers a passenger-centred service. Therefore it has launched “The Happy Bus”, that is its way to give back something to the community”. The idea has come from a workshop at the Happy Startup Summer Camp in 2014 and since then the staff committed to try and cheer up the life and daily routine of the passengers, giving them some warm and joy.