Sustainable Energy Challenge Kicks Off in the UK

The Co-Operative, a pioneer of social responsibility in the UK and in business since1844, has launched a challenge whereby it will seek six to eight communities keen to develop projects that “involve local people, change the way we think about energy, and inspire others to shape a renewable energy future.”

The Community Energy Challenge is part of The Co-operative’s Clean Energy Revolution campaign, which calls for a moratorium on the development of shale gas in the UK (fracking) and support for clean energy by government. It will support a set of community energy projects in the hopes of unleashing an alternative energy revolution in the UK.

The Community Energy Challenge will provide 12-18 months of enterprise development, mentoring, technical advice and community facilitation for six to eight communities, enabling them to initiate co-operative renewable energy projects at a significant scale (e.g. valued at £1m (US$1.58m) to £3m (US$4.75m) and/or rated in excess of 500kW).

The Co-operative Group has hired the Centre for Sustainable Energy to manage the project, which aims to bring the selected community projects to a state where it’s ready for further support and investment from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and The Co-operative Bank.

“The Community Energy Challenge offers a supported application process designed to help communities develop strong project proposals, even from a standing start. Lack of technical know-how should not be a barrier and communities with ambition are encouraged to apply,” CSE says on its website.

The Community Energy Challenge will operate a competitive bid process. All applications will be carefully evaluated and the final selection made by an expert panel. The deadline for expressions of interest is 29 February 2012. The organizers anticipate a mix of technologies (wind, hydro, solar PV, biomass, anaerobic digestion) and a geographical spread in the chosen projects.

Image credit: The Co-operative