M&S Energy funds 26 community energy projects

The energy arm of British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today (31 October) announced the winners of a £350,000 Community Energy Fund which supports a range of projects looking to install on-site clean technology systems.

A total of 26 winners were selected for M&S Energy funding of up to £12,500 each, with 19 based on 78,837 general public votes and the other seven chosen by a panel of judges which included former Energy Secretary Sir Ed Davey, Forum for the Future director Giles Bristow and SSE head of community investment Moven Smith.

M&S Energy head Jonathan Hazeldine said: “This year the competition has been fierce and we’ve been overwhelmed by the participation from the public who have voted in their tens of thousands. They’ve also generously donated over £28,000 through the Crowdfunding tool on our website which has been brilliant – for local community groups every small donation can make a massive difference.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the projects come to life and benefit local communities. As a 100% green energy supplier, supporting those who share our vision of a sustainable future through renewable energy is really important to our company, our customers and our colleagues.”

‘Real difference’

The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund saw 199 applications from a wide variety of groups looking to make a difference and 125 made the shortlist. This year, the voting process included the option to donate to any of the community energy groups via the Crowdfunding platform link on the M&S Energy fund website, which resulted in an extra £28,798 of funding.

Davey said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in the judging panel for the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund. All the winners will make a real difference to their local communities, made possible through this fund.

“The level of community support during the voting stages is a clear confirmation that community energy is thriving and communities around Great Britain want and need it – more so at this time of uncertainty in the community energy field. The judge’s prizes were stand out, presenting some unique and innovative ways to think about generating and saving energy.”

Not just community energy

M&S Energy launched the second edition of its Community Energy Fund following the success of last year’s scheme, which saw 246 applications from a wide variety of groups and a total of 51,000 votes cast.

The Community Energy Fund forms part of the retailer’s on-going sustainability programme, Plan A. In the summer, the firm launched a unique collaborative initiative designed to generate renewable electricity from solar panels installed on the retailer’s stores.

Elsewhere, M&S was recently provided with ‘assured advice’ from Westminster City Council to expand a trial aiming to redistribute chilled and perishable food waste to local charities. And the company has made an industry-leading commitment to support and improve the environmental sustainability of the fishing sector by signing up to the UK’s Responsible Fishing Scheme.

George Ogleby

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