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Community Energy Projects can benefit from £350,000 M&S fund

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For the second year running, Marks & Spencer (M&S) Energy have launched their Community Energy Fund. Community energy projects and technologies can benefit from the fund, with up to £350,000 available to support them. Any not for profit organisation is eligible to apply, as long as they use renewable energy to benefit their community.

Judges are looking for innovative projects that are in-touch with the local community’s needs, whatever they may be. Any not for profit organisation can get involved, whether a community energy group, sports club, library, amateur dramatic society, village hall or school.

Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy, said, “It’s been fantastic to see so many innovative and inspirational projects benefit from the 2015 M&S Energy Community Energy Fund. We’re excited to begin search for more groups who can really make a difference to their local communities.  

“As a 100% green energy provider, supporting those who share our vision of a sustainable future through renewable energy is really important to our company, our customers and our colleagues.”

Following the initial application and shortlisting process the winners will be decided by public vote giving customers and community members the opportunity to get involved with the initiative and select the project they believe will offer the greatest benefit.

Last year’s fund saw 246 applications from a wide variety of groups looking to make a difference and 132 making the shortlist! After a fierce public vote, with over 51,000 votes cast, 26 projects won funding. The projects touch communities across Britain, from the Outer Hebrides (Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Community Hub) to Cornwall (Hayle Outdoor Swimming Pool) and everywhere in between.

As one of last year’s winners, Harry’s Hydrotherapy Pool in Frome, has shown how the funding can make a real difference. The organisation, which aims to relieve sickness and improve quality of life for those with sensory learning or profound multiple difficulties, used the money to install solar panels to warm its specially adapted pool and is forecast to save up to £2,000 a year in heating bills.

Another winner was Hartlepower Community Interest Company (CIC), who won £40,000 of funding to create Hartlepool’s first solar school.

Peter Gowland, from Harlepower CIC, said: “The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund initiative couldn’t have come at a better time for Hartlepool CIC. Our experience of the competition was really positive and we would like to warmly thank the company for having the vision to initiate such a scheme, which in our case inspired other schools – and not just in Hartlepool – to want to go solar.”

The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund is split into two parts. Regional funding will be awarded for projects across Great Britain that require a maximum of £12,500, determined by the public vote, and a judges’ prize of £20,000 will be awarded to the most innovative or inspiring projects selected from those that do not win through the public vote.

Applications are now open and will close on 31st May.  Applicants will be shortlisted by a panel including M&S, SSE, Energyshare and an independent judge, projects will be considered based upon their social and environmental impact and on meeting a variety of criteria. That includes: having a clear business case that gives value for money, an engaged and supportive community, and a measurable community benefit

The public vote will open on 5th September and closes on 9th October. Full details on how to enter are available at M&S Energy’s website.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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