South West Community Energy project wins top European Award

The project is the UK's first crowd-funded venture that enables profits from renewable energy investments to be put back in to the local community.

A ground-breaking south west community energy project has taken top honours in the Ace Awards, which recognise achievements in renewable and sustainable energy across Europe.

Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns – which is based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire – took the top prize in the Community-Based Renewable Energy category. This follows the community initiative's success in last year's South West Green Energy Awards, when it won the Best Community Initiative.

The project is the UK's first crowd-funded venture that enables profits from renewable energy investments to be put back in to the local community.  The enterprise has a 500 kW wind turbine, which powers more than 300 homes in the community, generates income from the Feed-in Tariff and provides free electricity for the landowner. The result is a more sustainable business model for the local farm and the chance to reinvest the profits in additional Resilient Energy projects within the region.

The awards, which took place at a prestigious ceremony in Arnhem, the Netherlands, celebrated successes in the categories of Energy Neutral Village, Community-Based Renewable Energy and Energy-Smart Municipalities, with both other winners from the UK.

Jodie Giles, community energy support manager for sustainable energy not-for-profit Regen SW, said: "This is marvelous news for UK community energy initiatives and further evidence that Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns is a leading community renewable energy initiative. We're thrilled to have supported their efforts and look forward to sharing their success with the 200 other community energy groups in our network."

The winners of the other two ACE awards were Hook Norton Low Carbon Ltd in Oxfordshire in the Energy Neutral Village category and the EcoBicester project in the Energy Smart Municipalities category.

The Ace Awards were attended by 80 of Europe's leading experts in the field of sustainable energy, including community organisations, local energy agencies, government representatives and universities. The ceremony was held as part of the Ace project which is funded through the INTERREG IVB NWE programme. 

Mr Ruut Louwers, programme director of INTERREG IVB, said: "ACE is all about the uptake of renewable and sustainable energy in local communities. What we have seen here today sends a clear message that people power teaming up with a bit of European money is a formidable force in implementing sustainable energy projects and in getting local achievements recognised at an international level."

Gerry Wardell, director of Dublin's energy agency Codema and Chairperson of the Ace Awards said: "I would like to commend the three category winners and indeed all of the shortlisted nominees who attended today's ceremony.  All of the finalists are sure to inspire local communities across North-West Europe and show that replication of these projects is both achievable and beneficial on a social and environmental level."

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