M&S announces first winners of new energy fund

A community solar project on the Isle of Lewis is one of recipients of a grant from the first round of the Marks and Spencer Community Energy Fund.

The Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society) was awarded £12,500 from the Fund to go towards the cost of installing solar panels on the roof of the old Cross School building. 

The panels will allow Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) to generate their own energy, and could save the organisation up to £2,000 each year.  

The Fund was launched in July to support community renewable energy projects and technologies across the UK. 

A shortlist of 132 projects were put to a public vote and M&S announced this week that 19 projects from across the country have won up to £12,500 to get their renewable projects off the ground. 

Two projects won additional national prizes. Hartlepool Community Solar for Schools won £40,000 to support its ambition to supply 37 schools and colleges in Hartlepool with solar energy. 

The funding will help them install the first Solar School in Hartlepool at West Park Primary School. 

And a £20,000 prize went to Just Around the Corner, a Berkshire-based youth charity, which plans to use the funding to install solar panels on their activity site and stables, enabling them to reinvest funding elsewhere.

“We were absolutely delighted with the number of entries we received for the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund and it was brilliant to see communities coming together in support of renewable energy projects in their area – we received over 51,000 votes in total,” said Head of M&S Energy, Jonathan Hazeldine.

“We have a very worthy list of 26 winners from a whole range of projects, which all exemplify the innovative approach communities across the UK are taking to generating their own energy.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues