Inspiring examples of renewable energy take top honours. Last night (5 September), the community energy industry gathered at a vibrant ceremony in Oxford to showcase and celebrate the communities, projects and individuals that are at the forefront of the community energy revolution.
About 55 entries were short-listed from all the nominations to the second Community Energy Awards, organised by Community Energy England and kindly sponsored by Northern Powergrid. But last night was all about the finalists, as eight category winners were announced by awards’ host Paul Monaghan.
The quality of entries made life tough for an excellent panel of judges including Peter Capener, Chris Church, Ed Davey, Ramsey Dunning, Jonathan Hazeldine, Jenny Saunders, Will Walker, Becky Willis and Philip Wolfe.
The eight category winners, which represent the very best examples of community energy in England and Wales were:
· Community Energy Saving Award: Wey Valley Solar Schools Energy Co-operative
· Community Energy Funding Award: Ethex
· Local Authority Partner Award: Cornwall Council
· Community Energy Innovation Award: Co-operatives UK’s Peer Mentoring Programme
· Community Energy Collaboration Award: Saddleworth Community Hydro
· Community Heat Project Award: Camelford Leisure Centre
· Community Power Project Award: Chase Community Solar
· Two Community Energy Champions were chosen: Adam Twine and Jon Hallé
“Community Energy England is pleased to be hosting these awards for the first time this year”, said Phillip Wolfe chairman of CEE, which organises the awards. “We have been delighted by the abundance of good entries. All finalists are exemplars in their field and leading the UK’s community energy drive”.
The community energy sector has gained real traction in the past 24 months and guests were delighted to hear from the previous Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey – one of the judges, who gave us his thoughts on the development of community energy in the UK since he launched the Community Energy Strategy last year.
“The community energy sector has shown great resilience, despite recent policy uncertainties”, he said. “It is 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 chosen from a high-quality shortlist of entrants from across the country by an independent panel of judges (see above) who have expert knowledge in sustainable energy.
OUTCOME OF THE 8 AWARD CATEGORIES:
Community Energy Saving Award
Wey Valley Solar Schools Energy Co-operative
Relighting an entire school with LED lighting thereby reducing carbon emissions from lighting by two thirds and improving lighting quality, paid for out of electricity savings and complying with the complex rules relating to school financing, whilst making sufficient return for the community co-op.
Carbon Co-op’s uniquely ambitious Community Green Deal project has delivered 2050 standards whole house retrofit, at scale and an affordable cost using a householder led, co-operative model. It has demonstrated that a Community Energy intermediary can leverage high levels of trust where Green Deal and the private sector has failed.
Community Energy Funding Award
Ethex connects the growing community of individuals who want to make money do good with community energy. Ethex has helped raise over £16m (in total) in less than two years, helping over 16 community energy schemes get off the ground and deliver renewable energy, CO2 savings and real community benefit.
The Low Carbon Hub
The Low Carbon Hub has a long-term vision for the development of a new energy system in Oxfordshire. The funds supporting the development of this vision will come from community benefit surpluses generated by £15m community-owned renewable energy projects supported by a £2.3m revolving construction facility from Oxford City Council.
Local Authority Partner Award
Cornwall Council is shifting the focus of our energy system from one which drains our economy to one which powers its future. At the heart of this shift is the community. Having invested £5m in community energy and developed 8MW of Council-owned renewables, we are pioneering a local energy future.
Plymouth Energy Community
Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) has grown from a council initiative into a large community-led operation, offering a range of services to help residents change how they buy, use and generate energy. PEC shows that with local government support, community energy groups can effectively tackle climate change and fuel poverty locally.
Community Energy Innovation Award
Energy Peer Mentoring is a pilot programme which set the national benchmark in delivering peer-led world class support and training. The peer mentoring scheme supported 33 community renewable energy projects and recruited 20 leading pioneers with diverse skillsets across the community energy field to deliver quality advice and support.
Repowering was the first organisation in the UK to deliver innovative community energy projects on inner-city social housing estates. Working closely with both local authorities and communities within London, we deliver community energy initiatives that have meaningful impacts for deprived communities.
CESCOs will transform the electricity market, enabling communities to:
• pool their local generation and match their consumption to this, increasing its value
• buy power cheaply when wholesale prices are low.
This saves money, retains and shares more income locally and encourages community cohesion and the installation of more renewable generation.
Community Energy Collaboration Award
Saddleworth Community Hydro
Inspired by the film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, this community owned station generates 50 KW of sustainable energy using the compensation water from a United Utilities’ reservoir in the Peak District National Park. With 160 shareholders, this first scheme for England will plough profits back into local environmental and educational projects.
Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf
The small North Wales community of Abergwyngregyn has shown that the way forward for Community Energy is to ensure engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders from the start. It has successfully overcome numerous environmental, legal and contractual hurdles to make their project a reality.
WREN (Wadebridge Renewable Energy network)
In a first of its kind collaboration, South West Water (SWW) and Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) installed solar renewables at a treatment works. WREN established Wadebridge Energy Company (WEC) to enable local people to invest in such local generation projects – this SWW array forms WEC’s first solar portfolio.
Community Heat Project Award
Camelford Leisure Centre
Camelford Leisure Centre is a community-owned sports centre in rural North Cornwall. When Cornwall Council withdrew funding in 2012 after operating at a 40% deficit, local people produced a business plan to take over, making changes around energy-saving, operational efficiencies and improving community engagement. The centre is now financially viable.
MORE Renewables has provided a small pellet biomass boiler for a charitable holiday centre, under an innovative shared-ownership agreement that allows the benefits to be shared between the two co-operatives. The boiler replaced a coal-burning system and has reduced carbon emissions and the running costs of the holiday centre.
Community Power Project Award
Chase Community Solar
10 volunteers working with the local authority and multiple external stakeholders have in two years created, financed and managed a pioneer highly complex project installing PV on the roofs of vulnerable fuel poor council tenants saving them over £1Million on the energy bills, money that will now stay in
Cannock further supporting their families and the broader community, in turn reduce the community’s carbon footprint while providing investors with a good return.
Banister House Solar
Banister House Solar is a project that shows we can make a change at a local level, not only for the environment but for the good of our community – on our council estate in Hackney and beyond. First we achieved community, now we achieve power.
Community Power Cornwall
CPC encourages communities to take an active role in meeting their energy needs through renewables, while retaining financial, social and environmental benefits within Cornwall. Projects are designed to reduce emissions, fund community facilities, embed financial benefits in the locality and create a ripple effect of energy saving and behavioural change.
Community Energy Champions
Promoting and enabling community energy has been a primary focus of Jon Hallé’s life for the last seven years. He’s helped raise nearly £8 million 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.
Adam’s approach is unique. He has enthused people from all backgrounds to create a genuinely innovative oasis of democracy, sustainability and energy independence. The first major community built wind-farm, first major community education programme with 10,000 visitors, and first major solar development and buy back.
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