Twenty-five renewable community energy projects have won a share of the £300,000 M&S Energy Community Energy Fund. The 2017 winners beat 156 projects nationwide to receive up to £12,000 of funding for their local clean energy project.
This year’s competition was fierce; 2017 saw the largest community campaigning effort out of the fund’s three-year history, with public votes surpassing 100,000 for the first time. This announcement follows a six-week long campaign by each project calling on the local community to show its support after the projects were shortlisted for the prize back in July.
Twenty-one of the twenty-five winners were determined by the public voting tally, while a further four projects, considered to be the most innovative or inspiring, were chosen by a panel of expert judges, including broadcaster and Red Dwarf star, Robert Llewellyn and former prize winner Becky Vipond from Toxeth Food Central. The judging panel was hosted by Crowdfunder Chairman, Rob Love at River Cottage, Dorset.
The judges’ prize winners included:
Forest Row Community Group, whose vision to power their community through local energy production and create an energy movement that is self-sufficient, will fund solar installations and battery storage schemes for the local area.
The Avenues Youth Project, an organisation committed to helping teenagers into work, will install LED Lighting which will rejuvenate their facilities and lessen energy costs.
Berkshire Women’s Aid who plan to bring their accommodation into the 21st Century by installing Solar PV panels, and in turn improving the quality of life of the women and children taking refuge there.
St. Andrew’s CE Primary School who plan to install LED lighting across the school site and raise awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency amongst staff, parents and children.
Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy said, “Our community energy fund has grown from strength to strength over the last three years; this year for the first time ever we surpassed 100,000 public votes. For us that means there’s 100,000 people here in the UK committed to protecting our environment and creating sustainable energy solutions – what M&S Energy is all about. We were bowled over by the innovation and creativity displayed by this year’s community projects. The fund is a great way for us to connect with some brilliantly innovative energy projects and reach our goal to help at least 200 communities to reduce their carbon footprint as part of Plan A 2025.”
2017 marks the third year of the M&S Energy Community Fund, which donates up to £300,000 to support a variety of non-profit community organisations such as sports clubs, schools and local libraries to go green. This year the voting process included the option to donate to any of the community energy projects via the Crowdfunding platform link on the M&S Energy fund website, which resulted in an extra £26,000 of funding.
Rob Love, Crowdfunder Chairman said, “It’s fantastic to see that the quality of projects coming through the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund continue to improve year on year. We were truly amazed at the level of engagement in the voting process from the public, who are clearly emotionally and physically invested in making these ideas a reality. This made the decision-making process at the judging panel tougher than ever! All of the projects are winners, and at Crowdfunder we will continue to support great community energy projects so that they too can come to life.”
As part of Plan A 2025, M&S Energy have committed to helping at least 200 communities to reduce their carbon footprint.