Shortlist announced for Community Energy Awards for England and Wales

Schemes range from massive solar developments to energy-efficient retrofits

Community Energy England (CEE) and Community Energy Wales (CEW) have announced the shortlist for the 2018 Community Energy Awards, which will be announced in Bristol on 19 October.

Organisers says the list “demonstrates the breadth of activity and passion that communities have for developing energy projects, tackling climate change and improving their local areas in the face of an increasingly difficult policy landscape.

“Community energy works and hundreds of projects now in operation have demonstrated the positive benefit they bring to the social value of their areas, through improving local community assets and providing a source of civic pride.”

As part of the evening’s celebrations, Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, and Robin Webster, senior climate change engagement strategist at Climate Outreach, will share their thoughts on continued UK leadership on climate change and the role that communities can play.

The awards ceremony, at the Arnolfini on the city’s harbourside, follows a free afternoon conference, The Energy Transition: Top-Down v Grassroots, hosted with Bristol Energy Network and Bristol City Council Energy Service. It will focus on how communities, organisations and local authorities can work together more effectively to tackle fuel poverty and climate change.

The event takes place during Green Great Britain Week, a new initiative from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to highlight the opportunities clean growth offers the UK.

Robert Proctor, business development manager, at CEW, said: “The range of entries once again made shortlisting for the awards a difficult task for the panel of judges. We’ve heard from projects covering the whole spectrum of community energy, from innovative schemes retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency, to groups tackling fuel poverty among the most vulnerable, and massive solar developments using co-operative models.”

Emma Bridge from Community Energy England (Photo: Ian Howarth)

Emma Bridge, chief executive of CEE, said: “The awards really do demonstrate the resilience and determination of groups, individuals and organisations to make community energy a reality in their area.

“CEE and CEW will be making the case for government to consider how it can make a positive contribution to the community energy sector. Recently government has made it very clear that subsidies for projects won’t continue, so with little in the way of financial help, we’ll be using Green Great Britain Week to reach out to ministers and officials at BEIS to discuss the need for alternative support for the sector, as well as encouraging our members to talk to their local politicians to address local issues that might be barriers to community groups taking on energy projects.

“Like any other sector, green energy isn’t immune to the austerity cuts, but we are an innovative movement, so we’re finding ways to make community energy projects work despite the challenges. The Community Energy Awards and preceding conference is a chance to celebrate, share ideas and to look to the future.”

Related: Report from this year’s Community Energy Conference

More information about the awards, conference and ideas for groups wanting to engage their local MP or others during Green Great Britain Week are available on the CEE website and the Community Energy Hub.

Registration for the conference and awards is free, and CEE, CEW, Bristol Energy Network and Bristol City Council Energy Service, are encouraging anyone with an interest to attend so they can find out more and get involved with community energy in their area.

The awards shortlist:

Community Renewable Energy Project Award (sponsored by Co-op Energy)

The Schools’ Energy Cooperative Ltd: Working through a network of local groups and partners, this has installed solar panels on 42 schools, including 16 in the past 17 months, with many more installations under development.

YnNi Teg: (Welsh for Fair Energy): A Welsh community energy project in Carmarthenshire to support the local community and other community energy schemes in Wales.

Community Energy & Carbon Saving Award

The C.H.E.E.S.E Project – Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts: A not-for-profit community-led organisation set up with Bristol Green Capital funding to help householders make their homes more energy-efficient. It has developed a low-cost method, using iPhone-based equipment, to identify sources of heat loss in people’s homes through internal thermal imaging. This results in 75% of our clients taking remedial action within three months. Such low-cost actions frequently have a payback period on energy expenditure of one year or less.

Exeter Community Energy – Healthy Homes for Wellbeing: This provides valuable free energy advice and home visits for those eligible in Exeter, Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge and Torbay. Home Energy Advisers support the vulnerable and fuel poor at drop-in clinics, events across the region, and home visits, reducing their bills and energy consumption.

Plymouth Energy Community’s Energy Team: One of the country’s leading energy help and support services. Its robust network of referral partners and funding mechanisms has resulted in seven professionally trained advisors providing the best help for each resident. In the last year alone, over £1,335,000 and 5,028,100 kg/carbon have been saved by their interventions.

Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat: A social enterprise operating a 400kW wood chip based district heating system on the Springbok Estate in Surrey.   The project has made a genuine and replicable contribution to the reduction of carbon by switching an oil system to locally sourced wood chip biomass and by introducing energy efficiency measures in the buildings that the system supplies.

Local Authority Partner Award

Greater London Authority – Supporting Community Energy in London: The £400k London Community Energy Fund (LCEF) provides up to £15,000 in grants towards the development of community energy projects. 11 solar PV projects are already benefiting from phase 1 of the scheme and a wide range of projects will be supported under phase 2 (launched August 2018).

Suffolk Climate Change Partnership: A collaboration of local authorities that has led to Suffolk becoming the top county for council-owned solar PV and home to a number of pioneering community energy organisations.

The London Borough of Ealing: This has given their time, energy and resources to enable installation of solar panels on seven schools to date, with more to come. The project demonstrates how community energy can be delivered cost effectively and quickly, and shows that this can be replicated throughout the UK.

Community Energy Finance Award

Communities for Renewables CIC: The organisation bought and and financed the 9.3MWp Wick Farm solar project and creation of Burnham and Weston Energy CIC, which demonstrates how multiple funders and partners can be brought together to deliver a community energy generation project at-scale, achieve significant community benefits and incorporate democratic community governance.

Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners: A pioneering investment programme working to build the community energy sector through facilitating community ownership of operational solar farms, whilst maximising the financial, environmental and social impact generated within the local community.

Mean Moor Wind Farm: In July 2017 a consortium of three community energy co-operatives acquired the recently commissioned 3 turbine 6.9MW Mean Moor Wind Farm near Ulverston, Cumbria from its commercial owners, who had bought it from the developers.  The acquisition was complex and its funding involved bridging finance and two bond offers. Mean Moor is next to the community owned High Winds wind farm, and they are now being operated together.  With five turbines between the two sites and a combined capacity of 11.5MW, this has created one of the largest community-owned renewable energy projects in the country.

The Thrive Community Energy Funding Bridge: A response to the growing desire for community owned renewables. Thrive deployed already over £12m of investment through this model, which gives communities the time they need to raise their own funds through local ‘crowdfunding’ or a bank loan.

Social and Sustainable Capital’s Renewable Energy Portfolio and Strategy: SASC provides innovative and flexible financing, playing a crucial role in ensuring that community organisations benefit from renewable energy projects, and enabling significant local social impact. We balance financial return and community benefit, to meet the core objectives of the community groups we support.

Collaboration Award (sponsored by Power to Change)

Acquisition of West Country Renewables: Cornwall’s first community-owned energy co-operative Community Power Cornwall has acquired a wholly owned subsidiary West Country Renewables Limited for approximately £1.34m. This is the first time a Cornish community energy society has bought an existing commercial company and is a significant step for community ownership of energy generation in Cornwall.

Energise Barnsley: Energise Barnsley is the community group leading a collaboration for homes with air source heat pumps, a smart battery and solar PV, alongside Oxford Brookes University, Sonnen Technologies, Upside Energy, Northern Powergrid and Berneslai Homes. The project is exploring possible demand side response for domestic tenanted housing residents, alongside the government’s target of the electrification of heat.

Energy4All: A co-operative of 23 trading and successful community renewable energy organisations, each of which is independent but co-operates through Energy4All to deliver more effectively their project management and administrative needs and their common mission of increasing community-owned renewable energy generation.

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