George Goudsmit Profile

AES Solar was first established as Weatherwise in 1979, however, it was the vision of our founder, George Goudsmit, who took it from a small heating company which had a sideline in solar thermal to the esteemed solar specialists we are today. In this feature, we delve into George’s remarkable journey as Managing Director of AES Solar.

Leading the Charge

George took on leadership of AES Solar when he first moved to Scotland from London in 1989. Initially situated within the Findhorn Foundation – an Ecovillage in Moray – George foresaw significant growth in solar power. This was at a time when solar thermal was the only readily available technology on the market and our solar thermal panel display was admired by none other than Sir David Attenborough when on display at a London Science Museum exhibition! In order to develop further, George moved the company into the neighbouring town of Forres, where we operate still to this day.

Findhorn Foundations

George stayed in touch with our “Findhorn Foundations” however and was regularly involved with community initiatives. This included supporting an architectural design contest for a Buddhist retreat on the Holy Island, leading to encounters with notable figures like the Dalai Lama and comedian Ruby Wax. Ruby Wax remains a friend of George to this day!

Pioneering Solar PV

Anticipating the rise in popularity of Solar PV, the team became trained in the installation of such systems and were involved in the UK’s first grid-connected solar PV project in 1995. Under George’s guidance, this innovative spirit has remained, resulting in diverse and unique projects ranging from remote cottages to iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle. The latter of which was recognised with the Solar PV Project of the Year award at the National Energy Efficiency Awards 2023!

Leadership and Advocacy

Throughout his tenure, George held pivotal roles in shaping the UK solar industry. As a board member of the Solar Trade Association (now Solar Energy UK) for two decades and a founding member of the Scottish Solar Energy Group (SSEG), he championed public engagement and education on solar energy. His contributions extended to the founding of organisations such as Scottish Renewables, Solar Cities Scotland, and SEDA Solar.

This support of the industry and its customers resulted in a meeting with the then Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry at Westminster in 2019. George and his solar companions used the opportunity to encourage an early introduction of the Smart Export Guarantee scheme. This was to ensure that customers and industry did not suffer as a result of the removal of the Feed-In Tariff.

Recognising Solar Brilliance

This dedication to the industry over the years accumulated in George being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Solar and Storage Awards in 2021. The judging panel selected George due to his commitment to the solar industry for over the past four decades. He was described as an early pioneer, having shown a personal and professional commitment to solar. His passionate advocacy on behalf of the industry and infectious enthusiasm for the technology were also noted.

A Royal Seal of Approval

Among his notable achievements, George is recognised for personally convincing the late Queen Elizabeth II to install solar energy at Balmoral! An opportune 20-second conversation on The Scilly Isles with the Queen (followed up in writing of course) led to AES Solar being selected to install a solar thermal system at the Scottish Royal Estate. News of this royal encounter travelled nationwide and was picked up by major news publications across the UK!

This feat, along with our exemplary portfolio, environmental initiatives and employee benefits, resulted in us receiving The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in 2022 in Sustainable Development—a testament to George’s legacy.

Passing the Torch

In February 2024, after four decades of leadership, George transitioned from his role as Managing Director to Company Founder, with the future of AES Solar secured through a management buyout. This will maintain the high standards of excellence George embedded within the company. While he steps back from daily operations, George remains involved with AES Solar engaged in exploring innovation in the dynamic solar sector.

George’s Reflection

George said of his decision to step down:

“The solar industry is a fascinating industry to be in and AES Solar has grown from a pioneer of solar thermal into a firmly established provider of solar energy to commercial and domestic customers.  I feel that the company has grown in a harmonious way for clients and employees alike and I am looking forward to exploring new innovation in the sector, safe in the knowledge that the business is in good hands. I always predicted great things for this industry and when I reflect on the past thirty-plus years, there is so much to be proud of.”