Independent charitable trust Power to Change won the accolade in recognition of its work to transfer solar farms to communities and encourage community energy innovation.
Power to Change has secured a Community Energy Award in recognition of its two pioneering energy programmes. The trust beat Electricity North West, Friends Provident Foundation and UK Power Networks to scoop the Community Energy Finance Award at a ceremony in London on October 18th.
The Community Energy Awards celebrate the best and most innovative projects in the community energy sector, as well as the funders and advisers who have achieved the biggest impact, whether it be through grant funding, debt finance, community shares or funding platforms.
Power to Change invested some of its £150 million endowment fund into Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) LLP – a groundbreaking investment partnership with Big Society Capital. CORE’s portfolio of six solar farms in England has a total enterprise value of over £40 million and generating capacity of 34MW, capable of providing the annual domestic electricity consumption for 11,500 homes. The solar farms are being optimised to enhance their performance, reduce operating costs and maximise community benefit. CORE will then transfer all six into full community ownership over the next few years.
Power to Change is also investing £1 million into its Next Generation programme to help existing community energy businesses explore new decentralised, decarbonised and democratised business models that provide benefits across their local communities.
Will Walker, Power to Change’s Community Energy Programme and Investment Manager, said: “At Power to Change we see community energy as a way to make better places for people to live and work, whilst accelerating responses to the climate emergency and zero carbon transition.
“We’re delighted that our work with CORE and Next Generation to place energy assets into the hands of local communities and develop new community energy business models has been recognised by the community energy sector. Together we can create a cleaner, greener, better future.”
Emma Bridge, Chief Executive of Community Energy England, said: “We are honoured to have been able to celebrate the achievements of so many talented organisations like Power to Change, Friends Provident Foundation and the Naturesave Trust. Without their support the community energy sector would not be able to develop projects, or have the positive impact they do on the people and places around them.
“Community energy projects are taking groundbreaking technologies and testing them in real life settings, championing the transition to a decarbonised energy system and positioning themselves as the trusted intermediaries between institutions and the public. Quite simply, community energy groups are showing their friends, families and neighbours now, how we will all need to change our energy behaviours in the future.”
Next Generation has already awarded almost £500,000 to five community energy businesses which are trialling new business models, from a school-focused energy service company to community-owned solar PV system linked to electric vehicle charging points.
About Power to Change
Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.
Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector is worth £1.05 billion, and comprises 7,800 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2018)
From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.
About The National Lottery Community Fund
We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.