Retail giant Marks & Spencer launches community energy fund

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 01 Jul 2015 10:27, Last updated: 2015-07-01
Community energy schemes can apply for new M&S; Energy fund
Community energy schemes can apply for new M&S Energy fund

Leading retail chain Marks & Spencer has today launched the M&S; Community Energy Fund, with up to £400,000 available to support community renewable energy projects and technologies across the UK.

Any not for profit organisation that wants to use renewable energy to provide community benefits can apply, whether a community energy group, a sports club, library, school or simply an organisation that wants to have a positive impact on the environment.

Following the initial application and shortlisting process, the winners will be decided by public vote, enabling local communities to vote on the project they believe offers the greatest benefit to them.

There are estimated to be over 5,000 community energy groups currently active in the UK, with over 700 launching every year since 2008.

The fund’s launch comes as M&S; Energy moves to supplying 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. M&S; Energy will generate electricity from 46 hydro power stations in Scotland equivalent to the consumption of its customers.

Sourcing responsibly in a world that is increasingly resource constrained is central to Plan A and this marks a significant step towards M&S;’s target for all products to have a Plan A quality by 2020.

Today’s announcement coincides with M&S;’s annual Plan A 2020 Stakeholder Event where the company gave an update on the progress it has made against its Plan A commitments, along with its view on the sustainable business challenges and next steps.

Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S; Energy said: “To mark M&S; Energy’s electricity going 100% green, we want to help more communities in the UK to generate renewable energy and become environmentally and financially sustainable.

“The M&S; Community Energy Fund will enable a wide range of groups to get their projects off the ground and we’re looking forward to hearing about innovative projects that will benefit local communities across the UK.”

Adam Elman, Head of Global Plan A Delivery at M&S; said: “One of our key sustainability aims is making Plan A more localised and relevant to the communities where our customers and employees live and work.

“The M&S; Community Energy Fund gets right to the heart of supporting our communities and provides a great opportunity for local green leaders to engage their community in the environmental and social benefits of renewable energy.”

Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “We’re transforming the way we power homes and businesses up and down the country – boosted by initiatives like this from Marks and Spencer. This fund will bring greener, cleaner energy supplies to local communities and supports M&S; Energy's impressive move to source 100% of the electricity it supplies from renewable sources."

The M&S; Community Energy Fund will be awarded as follows:

1. Two national awards of £40,000 and £20,000

2. Regional funding awards for projects across Great Britain that require a maximum of £12,500

3. A Judges’ Prize of £15,000 for the most innovative or inspiring project

Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday 29th July 2015. The judging panel, made up of renewable energy experts from M&S; Energy and SSE, will then agree a shortlist ahead of the final public vote, which opens on Monday 17th August and closes on Wednesday 30th September.

The judges will be considering entries based upon their social and environmental impact and will be scored against a variety of criteria, including:

• A clear business case that gives value for money

• An engaged and supportive community

• A measurable community benefit.

In addition to the public vote, there will be one Judges’ Prize for the most innovative or inspiring project, whether in the technology being used or in the group’s approach to the renewable energy challenge.

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