The Community Energy Awards saw a number of co-ops honoured at a ceremony in Bristol last month, with Energy4All picking up a gong for its outstanding contribution to the sector.
The evening, organised by Community Energy England (CEE) and Community Energy Wales (CEW), saw the special category created for the Cumbria-based co-op, which brings together 24 independent community renewable energy organisations around the UK.
For the last 15 years, Energy4All has helped its member organisations with project management and administrative needs, and brings them together to increase community-owned renewable energy generation.
Mark Billsborough from Co-op Energy, one of the award judges, said: “From domestic heat loss surveys, to creating large-scale wind farms owned by the community, it’s clear that the impact of groups across England and Wales means more people are able to access the benefits of community energy and make a change for the better in our bid to become a more energy efficient society.
“As judges we felt that a further category was required, the Outstanding Contribution to Community Energy Award, and we were delighted to be able to announce at the ceremony that the winners of this special award were Energy4All.”
The award for Community Renewable Energy Project went to the Schools’ Energy Cooperative, which worked with a network of local groups and partners to install solar panels on 42 schools – including 16 in the past 17 months, with more installations in the pipeline.
The Community Energy & Carbon Saving Award went to 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 make houses more energy-efficient.
The Local Authority Award went to the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, a collaboration of local authorities that made Suffolk the number one county for council-owned solar PV. The partnership has provided a range of support for community energy, including awareness raising, planning support, funding and feasibility studies; it has also made direct investment in installations, produced a community energy toolkit and given in-depth advice and support to over 120 community buildings.
The Collaboration Award, which recognised joint projects by community and commercial /public/third sector partners went to Energise Barnsley, which has worked with Oxford Brookes University (academic partner), Sonnen Technologies (commercial battery partner), Upside Energy (commercial aggregator), Northern Powergrid (DNO partner) and Berneslai Homes (tenant housing association). Its is currently working on a household project which uses air source heat pumps, smart batteries and solar PV.
The Community Energy Finance Award went to Mean Moor Wind Farm and Thrive Renewables for their partnership to buy Mean Moor Wind Farm, near Ulverston, Cumbria. The process was complex and its funding involved bridging finance from Thrive Renewables and two community bond offers.
Jake Burnyeat, founder of Communities for Renewables CIC (CfR), was named Community Energy Champion. The judges said his passion and dedication had enabled CfR to work with over 30 community energy enterprises and deliver over £40m of community solar PV in 10 sites, ranging from school roofs to one of the largest community-owned solar farms in the UK.
Jason Blanchard, 24, was named Community Energy Young Champion for his work with community energy enterprises across the south west of England in his role as technical manager at CfR and through volunteer work.
The Community Energy Photo Award for an original image that best captures the movement’s essence was given to YnNi Teg (Welsh for “Fair Energy”), which runs a 900kW community-owned wind turbine near Carmarthen. Three directors were pictured in front of the turbine modelling ethical pants with the tagline ‘Powered by Wind’, to promote the co-op’s share offer.
The awards were announced during Green Great Britain Week (15-19 October), which was set up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The celebrations featured sessions with Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, and Robin Webster, senior climate change engagement strategist at Climate Outreach, who explored the UK’s initiatives on climate change and the role that communities can play in these efforts.
The awards followed a conference on how communities, organisations and local authorities can work together more effectively to tackle fuel poverty and climate change. Hosted with Bristol Energy Network and Bristol City Council Energy Service, the Energy Transition: Top-Down v. Grassroots conference featured Claire Perry, UK government minister for energy and clean growth.
Ms Perry said: “The UK has led the world in cutting emissions whilst growing our economy – with clean growth driving incredible innovation and creating hundreds of thousands of high quality jobs.
“I’m delighted to see how many more businesses and organisations such as Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales are seizing this multi-billion pound opportunity to energise their communities to tackle the very serious threat of climate change.”