Jump to Regional Winners
See our winners from last year, changing their local community.
Hartlepool Community Solar for Schools, Hartlepower
£40,000 National prize winner
The grand prize of £40,000 funded the first Solar School in Hartlepool, a pioneering project with West Park Primary school installing roof top solar panels with the view to become a kick starter and a lighthouse project for other schools in Hartlepool.
The School installed in February 2016 and as the days brighten, the panels are providing almost all of the school’s energy needs for the average day. West Park Primary school’s Eco Team had led the support from the school and welcomed us during our visit to the school to meet the team and view the installation.
We were pleased to provide this investment to not only increase the learning of renewable technology in a school but also in the context of Hartlepool, one of the most deprived areas in North East England for 2015.
Just Around the Corner, Charity
£20,000 National Prize Winner
The 20kW solar panel installation is due to take place this summer and are anticipating to save 15,354 kg/a carbon emissions, providing savings on their energy bills that can be spent on increasing mentoring services within the community.
Just Around the Corner (JAC) work with disadvantaged young people to enable them to make positive choices. The objectives are to provide a first point of contact to the youth living within the Berkshire area to raise the awareness of alcohol, drug and substance abuse and general wellbeing and to challenge their social attitudes.
Arcola Theatre Production Company
Since 2007, Arcola Theatre has been determined to become the first carbon neutral theatre. In this competition, their aim was to install a sustainable heating system, built around their existing biomass boiler.
Before the installation of the new system, the theatre was struggling to accommodate the many community theatre groups, and the 40,000 people who use the building each year.
As a cultural organisation, Arcola theatre have shown the possibilities of promoting behaviour change towards a more sustainable future, aiming to lead a shift in how sustainability is integrated into the arts and community venues, increasing the positive impact of the sector as a whole.
Arcola Theatre completed their installation in February 2016 and are now able to offer a more comfortable environment for all the thousands of users of the building.
Carrington Solar School Project, Carrington School
Installing solar panels was a long standing ambition of children on the School Council, as it would enable the school to generate revenue to help the school continuously improve its educational facilities.
Carrington School is expected to complete their 25kW solar pv installation in August 2016. ‘The Friends of Carrington’ school committee including parents and local community leaders have been working hard to raise the remaining £20,000 for the installation. Donations can be made towards this final goal here.
Colchester Buddhist Centre
Essex & Suffolk
Being one of the founding members of the Sustainable Buddhist Centre Scheme. Colchester Buddhist Centre wanted to make their building sustainable too.
The 4kW system was installed in January 2016 and has already been generating solar energy contributing to the building works undergoing in the newly acquired property that will house a permanent Buddhist Centre after a 20 year ambition to do so. The building should be completed and a fully functional centre at the end of this summer.
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis installed 10kW solar PV panels to the former primary school which is now a community hub and home to the local historical society.
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) was the first historical society to be set up in the Western Isles in 1977. In 2011 CEN secured ownership of the former primary school, a 136 year old building, for the benefit of the local community and since has expanded to include a café and a Day Club for elderly and housebound members of the community. The new panels could save the organisation up to £2,000 a year in running costs.
Dunvant Rugby Club
South Wales & West
Dunvant Rugby Club wanted to reduce the outgoings of the club with their 10kW solar PV installation and replacement of their floodlights to energy efficient LED ones.
After attaining 777 votes to win, Dunvant Rugby Club have now completed their solar and light installation and have been able to secure their facility as a focal point within the community. Their estimated savings with be close to £2,000 a year, a huge help in reducing running costs and keeping open.
Exeter Phoenix Cinema
With an impressive win from attaining 1445 votes, Exeter Phoenix was awarded £12,000 to fund the installation of a 10kW solar PV installation, which is now completed.
A unique space in the heart of the city, Exeter Phoenix is an arts charity that is shared and enjoyed by artists, audiences and Exeter’s community. Installing solar panels on the roof of the cinema will help the charity generate its own energy and allow a greener future for arts in the city. The project will benefit the community by using savings from the solar installation to provide best value cinema tickets within the city.
Harrietsham Village Hall
With over 1,500 users within the village and surrounding area, Harrietsham Village Hall is key community hub that is now able to enjoy the benefits of a 10kW solar PV installation.
Finally, the solar PV, installed before the FiT changes in December 2015, will help to provide a revenue stream for the Trust. The hall currently accounts energy costs as its primary expense, the installation of solar PV will help to lower these costs, giving them more funds to go towards the upkeep of the hall, to carry on the community activities offered and continue to bring the community together.
Hayle Swimming Pool
The Town Council, in conjunction with the Friends of Hayle Pool, will be installing a solar thermal system to help heat the pool later this summer 2016.
Hayle Town Council were striving to heat, and eventually cover, the outdoor pool to provide a safe, warm environment for residents and visitors. The long-term aim is to be able to provide the town with a local amenity saving on travel to neighbouring towns to enjoy all the health benefits of swimming.
Low Carbon Lichfield
Low Carbon Lichfield (LoCal) is a community group that aims is to help the city progress towards a low carbon, sustainable future – currently Lichfield has an embedded carbon footprint 12% higher than the UK average.
LoCal will be installing a 4kw solar PV system to provide power for local housing via a highly innovative micro smart grid system that will automatically monitor and share the energy between the residents connected. The principal value is in the ability of the system to share the power between homes and maximise the efficiency of the solar power, water heating and storage heating providing energy savings to the community.
Moulton Guide Hall
Home Counties North
After attaining 1402 votes, Moulton Guide Hall, a Girl guiding facility, was able to secure their £12,500 win that contributed to their total fund to install a 10kW polar PV system earlier this year.
Moulton Guide Hall has little income so there is huge need to save money on energy bills, to keep the hall open to the groups using it on a regular basis. The Guide Hall was built in 1972 and the main aim is to provide a safe welcoming environment for girls today and for the future. The solar panels will help save up to £1,000 a year, money that can contribute to additional facilities at the Guide Hall.
Penketh Scouts and Guides
Merseyside, Cheshire & North Wales
With 564 votes, Penketh Scouts and Guides was awarded £7,900 to install a 4kw solar array comprising of 14 panels.
The installation is now completed and will help to reduce the running costs of the hall and ensure its long term survival, as over 200 boys and girls, from 6 to 16, use the hall each week. The reduced running costs and additional income will enable the group to offers a great environment for local children as well increase the facilities offered in this social hub for the local community for all families.
South Wonston Parish Council
Home Counties South
Having secured funding towards the renovation of their building, the M&S Energy Fund of £12,500 provided the opportunity to add an 11kW solar PV installation. The installation is expected to complete in July 2016.
The Council wanted to replace their old pavilion with a modern, sustainable and attractive building that would provide access to state of the art bespoke facility for a wide range of clubs and teams across the community. After extensive fundraising, the group secured a whopping £325,000 towards the renovation and sought our help to fund the sustainable ambitions with renewable energy.
Having secured funding towards the renovation, they looked to M&S Energy Fund for money to add solar to the build.
St Werburghs City Farm
Attaining 884 votes from the public and awarded £12,500, St Werburgh’s City Farm have now completed their 4kW solar PV installation comprising of 15 modules over their new extension of education facilities.
This inner-city oasis connects people to their food, environment and community.
The farm is currently benefiting from an extension that will increase the facilities and are expecting an additional 4,000 users a year. The building will include integrated green technologies including the M&S Energy funded solar panels, rainwater harvesting, an air source heat pump with under floor heating and a green technology interpretation trail. They are also participating in the M&S Spark Something Good volunteering scheme in June 2017.
Skelton Grange, The Conservation Volunteers
Skelton Grange completed their ground mounted heat pump installation in January 2016 and are currently enjoying the warm temperatures it brings during the colder months. They are now looking to access the non-domestic RHI programme.
This renewable energy project in the form of a new ground source heat pump will benefit the 6,500 users per year by improving the community facility, making it a warmer and more comfortable to use. The up to £2,000 savings forecasted per year can be ploughed back into increasing the education and conservation sessions.
The Easterside Partnership
The Easterside Partnership is a small resident-led voluntary organisation set up to help the local community around the Easterside estate in Middlesbrough. In December 2015, the Partnership completed their 7.5kW solar PV installation.
The Easterside Partnership have installed solar PV onto the community hub building and upgraded the existing outside lighting to LED lighting, making the area much brighter and safer for the local residents and the surrounding community. Having achieved 918 votes from the public, the Easterside Partnership set up an inspiring level of community engagement campaign strategies that really got them noticed.
The Green Backyard
A vibrant community-growing project on a 2.3 acre once-derelict allotment site in central Peterborough, run entirely by local volunteers. Later this summer, the 7.4 kW solar pv installation will be complete.
As a former allotment site there is no mains power - a renewable power source will enable the Green Backyard to run their cafe, making it the only off-grid, community owned eatery in Peterborough. The volunteers have transformed the site into a thriving and productive space that hosts a range of community events and workshops, as well as a food shop housed in a re-purposed shipping container that provides ethically sourced wholefoods and locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Tockholes Village Hall
The £11,614 grant awarded has funded the now completed 8kW solar PV installation. This will complement the range of energy efficiency works completed to make the panels more effective too.
The village can often feel quite isolated, with limited transport options. The centre is therefore an essential part of the community and will now offer a more comfortable environment for all its users, particularly the young and elderly.
The group have already been working hard since 2013 to raise significant funds to install new air and water heating and to strip, insulate and re-slate the roof, as well as the restoration of the hall floor and redecoration. The final ambition was to install solar panels and M&S Energy was able to help in that part of the story.
Wigton Baths achieved 1401 votes to secure their £12,225 funding, they have now completed their installation of 40 solar PV panels on the south-facing roof of the Baths, which would save £2,500 from running costs annually.
1900 local people successfully campaigned to keep the Swimming Baths, where local people have been swimming for the past 100 years, open. Wigton Baths Trust has saved the swimming baths from closure and sought how costs could be reduced to help keep the baths open, and so came their solar ambitions. The community support has been so strong in Wigton to help this community organisation along, a fantastic example of engagement.
5ives Community Sports Club
5ives Community Sports Club completed their 10kW solar PV installation earlier this year and will be looking to make savings up to £2,000 a year, a great amount of savings to help increase the facilities at the sports centre.
This sports facility is in an area of deprivation in Barnsley, it aims to promote sport and physical activity in the community by providing pitch hire and sports services to enhance the health and well-being of the local community and provide fit for purpose sport pitches for hockey, football and lawn bowls. The solar panels will help 5ives become environmentally and financially sustainable. 5ives will now be able to provide better quality equipment which should encourage further users.