Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales announced the winners of the 2018 Community Energy Awards at the Arnolfini, Bristol on Friday 19 October. The awards were sponsored by Bristol City Council and Co-op Energy.

The winners of the Local Authority Award, which looks for the Local Authority that has done most to help local community energy organisations through partnering, investing, policy or other support, was the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership (SCCP).

SCCP is a highly successful collaboration of Suffolk's seven district councils and Suffolk County Council, which has led to Suffolk becoming the number one county for council-owned solar PV. The partnership has provided a range of support for community energy, including awareness raising and planning support, funding and feasibility studies, through to direct investment in installations, producing a community energy toolkit and giving in-depth advice and support to over 120 community buildings.

The partnership was formed prior to the UK Climate Change Act; Suffolk has long held the ambition to be the Greenest County and is making a strong case to claim that title. SCCP members recently topped the table for local authority solar PV investment in the Solar Trade Association's Leading Lights report; as they manage over 19MW of solar PV in total. This includes over 90 schools, council offices, leisure centres, 1000s of council homes and the UK's biggest local authority owned solar farm. 35 of their schools also have biomass boilers supporting the local fuel supply chain. In addition to showing leadership on their own estate, Suffolk Climate Change Partnership is also supportive of SMEs and community energy groups.

The BEE Anglia project currently offers SMEs a free energy audit service and grants of up to £50,000 to implement the recommendations. SCCP has also employed a dedicated community energy advisor, who has helped initiate several village scale energy cooperatives (Green Energy Nayland, Power 4 Kelsale cum Carlton), developed a community energy toolkit back in 2011 and has been helping community buildings gain grant funding for energy improvements like LED upgrades, insulation, heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar panels and wind turbines. SCCP is also coordinating Solar Together Suffolk, a group purchase solar scheme with iChoosr, to provide a trusted and affordable council backed route that counters mis-selling and will help households make the most of the feed-in tariff whilst it's still here. SCCP's latest initiative is to partner with SALC, Suffolk's town and parish council support body, to offer members tailored support for integrating community energy into their neighbourhood plans. Over 40 parishes attended the first workshop which in time should turn into community energy projects in their own right.

Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales congratulate them on everything they have achieved to date and wish them the best of success with future endeavours.

Ahead of the ceremony in Bristol, an expert panel of judges selected winners in each of the seven categories following an open application process. Mark Billsborough, Head of Renewables and Hedging at Co-op Energy and one of the Community Energy Awards 2018 judging panel, said: “It’s been an honour to judge the Community Energy Awards 2018. I can honestly say that making the final decisions was incredibly difficult. From domestic heat loss surveys to creating large-scale wind farms owned by the community, it’s clear that the impact of groups across England and Wales means more people are able to access the benefits of community energy and make a change for the better in our bid to become a more energy efficient society.”