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This year we made a bold claim - by 2025, M&S Energy will help at least 200 communities to reduce their carbon footprint through the installation of renewable energy generation or energy efficiency measures. As a major British retailer we’re on our own low carbon journey, but the expertise we’ve gained over the last three years are wasted if we don’t support the communities where we operate to kick start their own renewable energy drive.

This challenge is the foundation of the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund; a community programme that donates up to £300,000 each year to 25 local community energy projects. The catch? They must be renewable. 

Our community energy fund has grown from strength to strength over the last three years. This year the project reached new heights, with over 180 local community projects bidding for our support and generating over 100,000 votes, for the first time ever. For us that means there’s 100,000 people here in the UK committed to protecting our environment and creating innovative and sustainable ways of producing and using energy. That innovation and creativity is evident in the stories of our winning projects. 

Within the regional winner’s category, Roundwood Tennis Club’s ambition to create the world’s first plastic waste tennis courts really impressed. Replacing current material bitumen with new waste technology MR6 across the club’s 3 courts will save 30 tonnes of carbon emissions and approximately 300,000 plastic bottles from going to landfill.

A Judges’ Prize was also awarded to the most inspiring projects that do not win through the public vote. Out of the Judges winners, Forest Row Community Group, whose vision to power their community through local energy production and create an energy movement that is self-sufficient was extremely popular with the judges. The community’s ambition to develop a renewable resource which will not only cut their energy costs, but help other communities themselves go green was inspiring. Our grant will fund solar installations and battery storage schemes for their community.

We have been bowled over by the enthusiasm we’ve seen from all the community projects who have applied, and the support of their local communities. I’m confident next year’s competition will see even bolder, bigger and better ideas for transforming communities into renewable energy generators!