Co-ops and bencoms scooped a raft of awards as the community energy industry gathered in Oxford to celebrate its trailblazers.
More than 50 entries were shortlisted for the second Community Energy Awards, organised by Community Energy England and sponsored by Northern Powergrid.
Co-operatives UK’s Peer Mentoring Programme won the Community Energy Innovation Award. The scheme has supported 33 community renewable energy projects and recruited 20 mentors to deliver advice and support.
The judges commended Repowering London, the first UK organisation to deliver community energy in inner-city social housing estates, for community innovation, along with Energy Local, which encourages communities to use Community Energy Services Companies (CESCOs) to pool local generation and match their consumption to it and to buy power when wholesale prices are low.
The Community Energy Collaboration Award went to Saddleworth Community Hydro, a bencom which generates 50 KW of electricity using the compensation water from a United Utilities’ reservoir in the Peak District. Fellow bencoms Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf and WREN (Wadebridge Renewable Energy network) were commended by the judges.
The Community Heat Project Award was presented to Camelford Leisure Centre. When Cornwall Council withdrew funding from the centre in 2012 after operating at a 40% deficit, local people formed a bencom to take over. They improved energy savings, operational efficiency and community engagement and brought it back to financial viability.
The judges commended MORE Renewables, a bencom with projects including a biomass boiler at the Horton Women’s Holiday Centre co-operative, which runs under a shared ownership agreement that allows the both organisations to benefit.
Chase Community Solar, also a bencom, was named best Community Power Project. Its volunteers have worked with Cannock Chase District Council and others to create, finance and manage installation of solar panels for fuel-poor council tenants, saving them over £1m on energy bills.
The judges commended bencoms Banister House Solar, for its work on Banister House Estate in Hackney and beyond, and Community Power Cornwall, which encourages communities to take an active role in meeting their energy needs through renewables.
The Community Energy Saving Award went to Wey Valley Solar Schools Energy Co-operative, which relighted an entire school with LED lighting, reducing carbon emissions from lighting by two thirds and improving lighting quality.
Carbon Co-op was commended for its Community Green Deal project, which has delivered affordable whole-house retrofits at scale using a householder led model. “It has demonstrated that a Community Energy intermediary can leverage high levels of trust where Green Deal and the private sector has failed,” the judges said.
The Community Energy Funding Award went to Ethex, which has helped raise more than £16m for more than 16 community energy schemes in less than two years. The judges commended the Low Carbon Hub’s long-term vision for a new energy system in Oxfordshire, which will use funds from community benefit surpluses generated by £15m worth of community-owned renewable energy projects, supported by a £2.3m revolving construction facility from Oxford City Council.
Cornwall Council was named best Local Authority Partner. It has invested £5m in community energy and developed 8MW of council-owned renewables. Plymouth Energy Community was commended for showing that, with local government support, community energy groups can tackle climate change and fuel poverty.
Farmer and director of Westmill Solar Co-operative Adam Twine and founder director of Sharenergy Jon Hallé were this year’s Community Energy Champions. Mr Hallé has helped raise nearly £8m for community energy schemes. “His innovation and practical behind the scenes support has meant many, many projects have stepped off the page and become reality,” the judges said. They said Mr Twine had “enthused people from all backgrounds to create a genuinely innovative oasis of democracy, sustainability and energy independence”.
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey – one of the judges – said: “The community energy sector has shown great resilience, despite recent policy uncertainties. It’s the excellent initiatives, like those we are celebrating tonight, that encouraged me to prioritise community energy as a socially responsible contribution to the UK’s energy mix.”
The winners were announced on 5 September by Paul Monaghan of Up the Ethics.
In this article
- community energy
- Community Energy Awards
- Community Energy Conference
- community energy industry
- community energy schemes
- community energy sector
- community-owned renewable energy projects
- energy bills
- energy independence
- energy savings
- Paul Monaghan
- Marie-Claire Kidd
- United Kingdom