The prestigious Green Energy Awards shortlist has been announced today. At the 13th annual awards ceremony innovation, dedication and creative ingenuity will be honoured among other things that have put the south west of England at the forefront of the green energy revolution.
The shortlisted nominees (listed below) will now go through to the final stage of judging, where an expert panel of judges will select this year’s winners. The winners of each category will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms on 29 November 2016.
This year Regen SW, with support from the Institution of Civil Engineers, will award a new Best Arts and Green Energy Project Award with a £1000 prize to the winner, to raise awareness on how artists can help us address the challenging issue of tackling climate change.
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, said:
“We face a pressing need to reinvent the way we generate, use and supply energy. It is inspiring to see the skill and dedication demonstrated by so many local companies and organisations who are rising to this challenge and developing ground-breaking renewable energy projects, pioneering smart power initiatives and working in partnership with local communities.”
We face a pressing need to reinvent the way we generate, use and supply energy.
The judging panel comprises of:
- Elizabeth Corrado, director of market development, Power to Change
- Mike Hudson, renewable energy programme director, National Trust
- Katrina Williams, director general, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Emma Pinchbeck, head of climate change and energy, WWF
- Rebecca Pritchard, head of business banking, Triodos Bank
- Miranda Housden, regional director, the Institution of Civil Engineers
- James Heappy MP, member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee
- Lord Robin Teverson
MOST PROACTIVE PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATION
Exeter City Council
Setting the standards high, with a dedicated energy team, Exeter City Council is making ground breaking steps to become energy neutral. The savings are clear, with energy consumption of the Council’s estate cut by 2.5 million kWh. Forecasts project a decline in consumption of 37 per cent in 2016/17, with a carbon saving of 24 per cent, and a gross income of £522,000.
Public Power Solutions Ltd (PPS)
Public Power Solutions put communities at their heart, while creating value for the public sector. PPS is helping Swindon Borough Council install 200 MW renewable capacity by 2020, to meet the equivalent energy needs of every home in the Borough. Its innovations include the UK’s first solar farm funded by council-backed solar bonds sold directly to the public – Swindon Community Solar Farm.
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth City Council ingenuity in supporting the creation of Plymouth Energy Community and its on-going collaboration has brought inward investment in excess of £6,500,000 to Plymouth; over 11,000 households have benefited from grass-roots services; with £180,000 fuel debt cleared, £341,000 saved from household bills, 52 trained volunteers and 32 roof-mounted solar installations (saving host buildings £90,000/year).
Devon County Council (DCC)
Devon County Council’s Strategic Plan shows clear dedication in supporting communities to reduce energy needs. DCC invested £107,000 into the Community Energy Accelerator Project to help facilitate 13 community organisations receiving £225,000 from Government’s Community Energy Funds. This contributed towards three organisations installing a total of 412 kW rooftop solar PV.
BEST RENEWABLE ENERGY SCHEME, SPONSORED BY NATURESAVE
Bristol Energy Cooperative
The Lawrence Weston Solar Farm is a 4.2 MWp community-led development on low-grade land that generates 4,641 MWh/pa, saving 2,465 tonnes CO2 each year. The scheme shows just what can be achieved when the local council, a community energy cooperative and a local community group are committed to working together.
Kensa Heat Pumps
Innovative system architecture and the first micro district ground source heat network project of its kind in Cornwall, Kensa Heat Pumps replaced inefficient night storage heaters with sustainable ground source heat pumps in twelve bungalows housing older residents. Based on energy usage of 5000 kWh per annum, savings in the region of £300 per annum are expected.
Clean Earth Energy Limited
Clean Earth has collaborated with Imerys on a pioneering scheme, involving wind and solar installations on five complex sites on or next to operational mines within an airport safeguarding zone – widely considered unviable. The project will generate 8,200 MWh and a carbon saving of over 70,000 tonnes over 20 years, substantially offsetting the energy consumption of Imerys’ mining activities.
British Solar Renewables
A consortium led by British Solar Renewables connected England’s second largest solar park at the former RAF Wroughton airbase. The park totals 60.9 MWp and covers 172 acres. The development is forecast to generate 60.1GWh of electricity, which is enough to power 19,383 homes and save 17,425 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
An example of how zero-carbon living is achievable; SunGift Energy in partnership is collaborating to design and build Exeter’s first zero-carbon housing developments with 90 per cent of the work carried out by local workers. The first stage of the development has produced 200,000+ kWh of electricity per year, 800,000+ kWh of heat per year and reduced CO2 emissions 250,000+ kg per year.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY INSTALLER OF THE YEAR
Playing a key role in driving forward the uptake of renewables in the South West, Solarsense provide a complete design, installation and O&M service for a wide range of sustainable solutions. Since the beginning Solarsense have completed more than 10,500 installations delivering over 80,000 MWh and CO2 savings of 41,600 tonnes per annum.
From their base in Falmouth, Mojo Maritime has helped the tidal energy industry take a significant step forward by successfully installing he 400 kW DeltaStream Tidal Energy Limited device; the first full scale tidal stream generating device in Wales, becoming one of the first grid-connected demonstration devices for tidal stream worldwide.
Striving to bring innovation and leading customer satisfaction to its customers, Glevum Heating have installed; 158 ASHP’s, leading to approximate cumulative savings of £75,176 and a CO2 Saving of 750 tonnes CO2/pa in the past year. They also installed an impressive 394 PV arrays with a total approximate generation of 1050 MWh/pa and CO2 saving of 11,426 tonnes CO2/pa.
The most successful year for Forest Fuels to date, building a business that doesn’t rely on subsidies. To consolidate the biomass wood fuel sector, it acquired four commercial businesses. It introduced innovative new products including Biomass Monitoring System; won contracts including recent £500,000 contract for UK MOD sites; and increased its annual turnover by £7.7 million.
SOUTH WEST SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CHAMPION, SPONSORED BY THE CROWN ESTATE
A driving force behind Bristol City Council’s investment in renewables Mareike continues to be a strong champion for new technologies for the future. Showing true leadership overseeing the development of a multimillion-pound solar investment programme, the setup of Bristol Energy and instigating the council’s European Green Capital Award submission in 2009, leading to Bristol winning the title for 2015.
Andy pursued his passion for sustainability and renewable energy, when he threw himself into the task of growing Bristol Energy Coop, and did the lion’s share of adding two large solar farms to the portfolio, increasing the Coop’s assets by a factor of 20 in a year. In particular his unshakable determination was a key factor in the development of the Lawrence Weston Solar Farm.
Doug Eltham has tirelessly contributed much to the sustainable energy sector in the South West. His work on the Devon Community Energy Accelerator Project has successfully financed community energy developments and notably awarded over £62,000 of funding to 18 organisations across Devon. A bastion for community energy, Doug has helped countless community energy groups.
Simon Roberts OBE
Simon has been a champion of renewable energy for 27 years. Since 2015 Simon has led the Bristol Smart Energy City Collaboration, a ground-breaking initiative to realise the city’s ambition to become a smart energy city. He helped DECC develop the Rural and Urban Community Energy Funds and as advisor to Bristol 2015 European Green Capital, ensured Bristol adopted the goal of ‘working towards 100 per cent renewables’.
Peter has lead Forest Fuels – investing personal finances to take it from being a small regional business to the UK’s largest wood fuel company, nurturing an ethical culture. Core to Peter’s inspirational ethos has been investment in his staff and promoting co-operation between competitors, to build a reliable and professional market.
As the backbone of the Plymouth Energy Community, Alistair is the core negotiator on many of the successful partnerships and projects bringing £6,500,000 of inward investment to Plymouth to address fuel poverty, energy efficiency and local clean energy supply. A shrewd strategic thinker, he is not afraid to step outside the box to help drive an energy revolution.
BEST BUSINESS INNOVATION
Striving hard to support a cleaner energy future, Good Energy pioneered a new carbon neutral green gas. Now 6 per cent of their gas comes from Biome-thane, produced from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter, and to make it completely carbon neutral, emissions from the gas their customers use is balanced through verified carbon-reduction schemes that support local communities abroad.
Brackenburn is the first company to exploit naturally recurring bracken for renewable energy on a sustainable, commercial basis. Harvesting helps manage landscapes, creating biodiversity by encouraging new flora & fauna. Brackenburn will increase production to 20 tonnes per week this winter, harvesting on 11 sites, all within a self-imposed limit of 100 miles, to manage their carbon footprint.
British Solar Renewables
During the last 12 months, British Solar Renewables has negotiated the UK’s largest private wire Power Purchase Agreement on the UK’s largest solar park. They agreed an innovative contract with UPM and Engie which allows any excess power to be ‘spilled’ into the grid when generation is in excess of on-site demand.
Minus7’s inventive system turns a roof into a complete energy generating asset. The system harnesses solar energy to provide a complete energy solution for buildings providing heating, cooling and electricity. The system has already been deployed in single dwellings and single multi-dwelling developments, and has proven reliability, significantly low running costs and commercial viability.
Launched last October, the revolutionary Piclo uses meter data, generator pricing and consumer preference to match electricity demand and supply every half hour. Giving generators control and visibility on who buys their electricity and allowing consumers to select their preference on who to buy from; matching generation and consumption according to preferences and locality, providing customers with data visualisations and analytics.
BEST COMMUNITY INITIATIVE, SPONSORED BY SCOTTISH AND SOUTHERN ELECTRICITY NETWORKS
South West Water and Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network
A novel collaboration between South West Water and Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network, led to the identification of the opportunity for a 100 kW solar array in the field adjacent to Nanstallon Sewage Works near Bodmin. Launched in 2015, the array will provide 100 MWh into Nanstallon STW and save c.50tCO2e carbon emissions annually.
Exeter Community Energy
In just three weeks, Exeter Community Energy successfully raised a phenomenal £390,000 via a share offer to fund solar projects on buildings across Exeter with part of the income goes into a Community Energy Fund, supporting local initiatives to alleviate fuel poverty. 180 kWp of solar PV has been installed and a further 225 kWp will be completed by the end of 2016.
Plymouth Energy Community
With 1,200 members, over 400 investors, 33 community-owned solar installations and a well-established grassroots services helping society’s most vulnerable Plymouth Energy Community are at the forefront of community energy. Helping 11,200 households, saving £341,000 from bills, clearing £200,000 debt, installing 33 solar arrays (6 MW) and saving 72,500t C02 through solar.
Easton Energy Group Ltd
Easton Energy Group has engaged with its local community on a project at Easton Community Centre. The community has been highly engaged with the project throughout and has resulted in an increased awareness of energy issues and ways in which energy can be provided to a community on a small scale.
Community Energy Plus
Community Energy Plus delivered a pioneering project to equip 600 low-income families in Cornwall skills to take control of their energy bills through the innovative engagement approach of cooking. The Energy Fit Kitchens project used energy efficient slow cooking workshops as a stepping stone to encourage people to engage in a conversation about their wider energy use throughout the home.
Frome Renewable Energy Coop
After raising £280,000 in four days for their community share offer, Frome Renewable Energy Coop installed two community owned solar arrays predicted to save 2000 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime, and generate £220,000 for a community fund to support activities around energy efficiency and fuel poverty.
BEST ENERGY EFFICIENCY SCHEME
Reflex Marine Ltd
Energy Express (EE), an initiative from Reflex Marine Ltd, is a unique service designed to increase the uptake of energy efficiency in the residential sector and help customers save money and energy. Savings per-household from a service package that includes all the available measures are from £110 – £320/year or 400 kgCO2 – 1,200 kgCO2/year.
British Gas and Plymouth Community Homes
Working in partnership with Plymouth Community Homes, British Gas’ monumental Plymouth Community Regeneration project led to 3,908 social properties being insulated in less than two years with more than 200,000 m² of solid wall insulation. Plus, the installation of 290 high-efficiency boilers, 2,290 cavity wall extractions and offering residents energy efficiency grants of £3,900.
Easton Energy Group Ltd
The first project of its kind in the UK, Easton Energy Group has engaged with its local community on a project at Easton Community Centre. This pilot project involved digging boreholes in the playground to store heat generated by solar panels on the building in the ground. This heat can be stored in the summer and extracted in the winter via ground source heat pump saving money and carbon.
BEST ARTS AND GREEN ENERGY PROJECT, SUPPORTED BY THE INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
The Sol Cinema
The Sol Cinema is a unique mobile movie theatre powered entirely by solar energy. Touring all over the UK with smartly dressed usherettes, red carpet and inspiring films. Sol Cinema seeks to educate people about the use of solar energy through in an entertaining and engaging way.
Demand Energy Equality
The inspirational Bristol Energy Tree project brought together local energy activists, a drugs rehabilitation charity, a local bio-mimicry sculptor and Bristol’s science museum to create a truly cross-sectoral and highly creative public energy art piece. The project sought to maximise social value, by instigating conversation about energy, climate change, fuel poverty and renewable solutions.
The cSPACE Trust
Grounded in arts-led creative facilitation and enlisting professional engineers, ActiveEnergy investigated how turbines might function on the Thames Barrier, developed designs in a university prototyping laboratory, tested a small-scale turbine in the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament and are currently installing a stream wheel to drive an aerator for fish in the Lower Lea.
GENeco and Young Bristol have collaborated on a unique and exciting project to raise the community’s awareness of recycling, by producing a range of creative, eco-inspired artwork within the newly refurbished GENeco offices. The masterpieces included a large wall mural, a photography project and a bottle cap garden, all of which followed an energy-conscious theme.
The Open University
The Stories of Change project collaborated with artists to widen and re-energise the debate around energy and climate change, using creative practices to give a voice to communities seldom heard in energy debates. Activities were designed to create legacies: for participants; for physical and digital audiences; with workshops using leading players, to inform on the future of UK energy policy.
Land Art Generator Initiative
The Land Art Generator Initiative has transformed the engagement of the creative sector with renewable energy. The LAGI Glasgow project engage a large part of the creative community and asks creative practices to put renewables at the heart of place-making with the intention of achieving social change reimagining how we live with energy generation in the heart of our communities.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!