The competition, first announced back in July, offered funding to not-for-profit organisations that want to use renewable energy for the benefit of their local community.

Almost 250 entries were received, with a public vote and a team of judges deciding on the winners.

The £40,000 top prize went to the Hartlepool Community Solar for Schools project, which aims to supply 37 schools and colleges in Hartlepool with solar energy.

The £20,000 second 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.

Another 19 projects won £12,500 each through the public vote, while judges picked an additional five projects to receive the same amount.

“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.”

Plan A

Earlier this year, the energy arm of the UK retailer – M&S Energy – announced it is now supplying 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, generated from 46 hydro power stations in Scotland.

M&S has also committed to powering its own operations entirely by renewable energy, throught the RE100 initiative.

Just last week the retailer announced the launch of a nationwide food redistribution scheme which will see 150 of the supermarket’s biggest stores pass surplus food onto local charities.

The initiative forms part of M&S’ Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020. Surplus food including fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes and groceries will be distributed via the social network Neighbourly.

Brad Allen

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