Now the kids have gone back to school, what better time than to look at how you can save a few pounds on your heating and electricity bills?

A new project has launched to help Salford residents save money, energy and the environment this Spring.  Telephone advice and support is available from a team of Groundwork Green Doctors, who Salford residents can call free Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 12pm on 0800 090 3638.

The Groundwork Green Doctors recently supported Grace, who had been furloughed over lockdown.  With her reduced income and small amount of benefits she has been struggling whilst also home schooling her son and using a lot more gas and electric. The Green Doctor was able to refer her to National Energy Action who were able to give her a £140 voucher for her gas due to missing out on the warm home discount. The Green Doctor gave her some advice on simple ways to reduce her energy bills such as turning the thermostat and radiator valves down to make her gas last longer on the meters and giving her some free energy saving small measures such as LED lightbulbs. The Green Doctor spoke to United Utilities with her, and got her water rates capped for this year’s and last year’s bill, which removed £459.31 off her debt immediately. We were then able to set up an affordable weekly direct debit which pays for her current water bill and something towards the debt. United Utilities have also put her on a payment match scheme so if Grace keeps up her fortnightly payments over the next few years, United Utilities will deduct a further £2,210 off her debt.

Grace said “Groundwork is a fantastic organisation, they are there to help, and the Green Doctor has helped me get through this latest cold spell and during lockdown which has been a huge relief during this difficult time and I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted.”

The GMCR Energy Savers project has been set up by Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR), a volunteer-led project which has installed community owned solar arrays on seven Salford Schools.  The energy saving initiative has been funded by Electricity North West and will be delivered by the Energyworks team, which is part of Groundwork Greater Manchester. 

Kate Eldridge, Director of GMCR said “Over the past 5 years we have been supporting schools in Salford to cut their energy bills and carbon footprints by having solar panels installed.  We started the GMCR Energy Savers project because we wanted to bring similar benefits to everyone in the community.”

Suzanne Barningham, Energyworks Manager at Groundwork Greater Manchester said “Last year we worked with more than 3,000 people who saved over £2 million between them by saving energy.  In 2021 you could be one of those people.  Our friendly team of Green Doctors is only a phone call away.”

Helen Seagrave, Community Energy Manager at Electricity North West, added: “The GMCR Energy Savers project will support families to become more efficient and achieve all the benefits that come with reducing the amount of energy that we consume.

“Our Empowering our Communities Fund takes applications from community groups across the North West who aim to tackle energy-related issues at a local level, especially those that want to reduce their carbon footprint.”

GMCR has installed community-owned solar panels on seven schools in Salford, a school in Bury and a community centre in Partington.  Over the life of the project the solar panels have generated enough electricity to make almost 37 million cups of tea, preventing 180 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and cutting energy bills at the schools and community centre by a total of £17,000.


Notes to the editor

1.  Groundwork is a federation of charities mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment across the UK.  They’re passionate about creating a future where every neighbourhood is vibrant and green, every community is strong and able to shape its own destiny and no-one is held back by their background or circumstances.

Salford residents can call the Groundwork Energyworks team free on 0800 090 3638 for energy saving advice and support, and quote GMCR as a reference.

2. Greater Manchester Community Renewables Limited (GMCR) is a community benefit society, set up and run by volunteers to install community-owned renewable energy across Greater Manchester. It has 9 solar arrays, totalling c. 350 kWp capacity. For more information visit or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

3. Electricity North West is the region’s electricity distribution network operator. They’re proud to power the lives of five million people in the North West. From heating homes to charging cars and streaming TV shows, they work around the clock to keep you switched on for today and tomorrow.

  • They’re investing £1.8bn from 2015-2023 in the overhead lines and underground cables that serve the region and last year delivered the best reliability ever seen in the North West.
  • In 2019, they launched their Leading the North West to Zero Carbon plan, a specialist document which outlines how we plan to reduce carbon emissions in the region.
  • As part of the plan, they’ve also committed to invest £63.5m to drive down carbon emissions and help businesses, customers and colleagues do the same.
  • Electricity North West has become the first carbon literate distribution network operator and has committed to a carbon budget to meet zero carbon by 2038 for their own carbon emissions which will see 10% year on year decrease in emissions
  • Visit for more information and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. During a power cut or other emergency, check for updates online or call 105.

Autumn/Winter 2020 news

Solar Performance over Summer 2020 

This summer, our community owned PV panels generated 105 MWh, saving 25 tonnes of CO2 (based on meter readings taken in September 2020).  It’s great to see our 2019 installations performing well at the sunniest time of year!

That brings the total generation for the life of the project to 673 MWh, saving 180 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to planting 235 acres of forest! (source: EPA).

GMCR Energy Savers

As mentioned previously, Electricity North West has awarded GMCR a grant to support our sites and their local communities to save energy and save carbon. We are excited to be working with Groundwork to deliver a programme of fully funded activities; which include assemblies, workshops, energy quizzes and games.  Through this partnership, the GMCR Energy Savers project will also provide home visits and telephone support for those who are struggling with their energy costs.

As you can imagine, delivering community events hasn’t been possible during the pandemic; in Greater Manchester we’ve had localised restrictions in place since the end of July 2020.  Accordingly we’ll be focusing on getting the message to households through school and community communication channels.

Virtual events

We’ve been along to a few virtual events, including a volunteers virtual trip to the “alternative COP26”, a civil society event taking place even though the UN climate talks have been postponed a year.  We spoke at the Manchester Environmental Education Network AGM and at the North West Friends of the Earth event “What if all energy was green energy?” in August.  You can watch the video of Kate’s What If talk here.

Summer 2020 News

Update on 2019 installations
Our solar arrays at Monton Green, Springwood and Chesham primary schools were successfully registered for the Feed-in Tariff by the end of March 2020 deadline. All the sites are now generating electricity. However, export metering at Chesham and Springwood is not yet in place due to delays getting the existing meters reconfigured for export.

Chesham Primary School installation
Our installation at Chesham Primary School, Bury

Broader solar performance
Our total solar generation to date is 568MWh*, enough to make over 31 million cups of tea! This translates into 156 tonnes CO2 saved.

During lockdown, a lower proportion of the electricity generated has been used onsite than we would normally expect as some of our sites were closed, and others were open for keyworkers’ children only. We normally expect to see 75% used onsite – between March and July, this fell to around 50%, but it’s likely to return to normal as our sites reopen.

GMCR Energy Savers
In our last newsletter we shared the exciting news that we’ve been awarded grant funding to support our site partners and their local communities to save energy and reduce carbon.

Following a short tender process, we’ve selected Groundwork to deliver the community engagement work. Each of our sites will be offered a fully funded programme of activities tailored to their needs, all of which will be carefully managed to comply with social distancing and any lockdown restrictions in place at that time.

Activities in schools and at local community venues could include assemblies, workshops and information packs, energy saving pledges, energy quizzes and games such as energy bingo. We’re also hoping to provide a limited number of home visits, with telephone support available for those who are struggling with their energy costs.

In addition, Groundwork will provide training sessions to GMCR volunteers about energy saving and to increase awareness of how vulnerable people can be supported.

We’ll also be offering each site a free energy assessment so they can consider how to reduce the energy demand of their building.

Plans for the future
At our strategy meeting earlier in the year, we agreed that, even though the Feed-in Tariff scheme had closed to new entrants, carefully selected new solar projects will just about break even. We are keeping this under close review, particularly in light of recent changes to electricity price projections.

Along with many solar installers and funders, we’ve responded to a request for information from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who are interested in having solar panels installed on 76 sites across the city region. We set out how much money they could save as well as details of our experience and social and environmental credentials. Fingers crossed this will result in some new sites for GMCR!

Finally, special thanks to our volunteers who have continued to support us through the pandemic.


*Total generation since the project started based on June 2020 meter readings

Spring 2020 News

We hope that this news cheers you up in these difficult times.

First Community Fund Award

We were pleased to hand over a cheque for £1,000 to Fiddlers Lane Primary School. The school plans to spend the grant on recycling facilities and on cameras so the children can see what’s happening in the bird boxes. Read our press release here.

Fiddlers Lane community grant 600x450

Funding for Energy Advice

We’re delighted to share the news that we’ve been awarded grant funding to provide energy efficiency information to members of the community around our sites, encouraging them to save energy and reduce carbon for two years!  Part of the funding will be available to support our site partners identify energy efficiency savings if they wish to do so.

We are seeking a specialist to deliver this project.  You can find the project brief on our website.  Please share it with anyone who might be interested.

Strategy day

As you may be aware, the Feed-in Tariff has closed to new entrants. We were only able to submit applications for our 2019 sites because we had pre-registered them last March. We held a strategy day in January to look at the opportunities for GMCR without the FiT. We concluded that carefully selected new projects will just about break even and so decided that we would continue to look for new solar projects to develop.

strategy day photo Jan 2020 23%

Update on 2019 installations

We continue to follow up the Feed-in Tariff applications for our three 2019 installations at Monton Green, Springwood and Chesham Primary Schools in Autumn 2019, which have been delayed by an IT issue at OFGEM.  In the meantime, Monton Green and Springwood have both been generating and the delay is not causing us a cash flow issue. Export metering at Chesham and Springwood is also being finalised.

Broader solar performance

The addition of the Monton Green and Springwood arrays means that our total solar generation is 417MWh*, enough to make over 22 million cups of tea!  This translates into 121 tonnes CO2 saved.


*Total generation since the project started based on December meter readings

Project Brief – GMCR Energy Savers


We are seeking a consultant to design and deliver a programme of community engagement to provide energy saving advice

Project milestones and timescales
Project start: From May 2020
Initial conversations with sites completed: 30 June 2020
Activity programme drawn up and collateral identified / developed: 30 September 2020
Energy engagement: From October 2020
Project completes: 31 March 2022

Budget: £20,000

Who we are
Greater Manchester Community Renewables Limited (GMCR) is a community benefit society, set up and run by volunteers to install community-owned solar panels across Greater Manchester.  The panels are held for the benefit of the community, and any surpluses go into a community fund to support local carbon reduction, energy efficiency and environmental education projects.

Project background
GMCR would like to amplify its impact by supporting our site partners and the communities close by to save energy.

GMCR is seeking a partner who can develop and deliver projects to support local communities in saving energy at home and at school, measuring their results.  GMCR’s sites are listed in the appendix.

Objectives and Required Outputs
Primary Objective – Community engagement activity

  • Provide energy efficiency information to members of the community around our sites, encouraging them to save energy and reduce carbon through face to face engagement
  • Build a community of energy savers by following up online and through social media

Secondary Objectives
Site support

  • Support our sites to reduce their own carbon footprints further by arranging energy audits, accessing funding for energy saving measures and procuring the energy efficiency work identified (Note: there is a separate budget for energy audits)
  • Project management of specialist educational support to help pupils learn about the climate emergency and energy efficiency so that they can take these messages home (Note there is a separate budget for specialist educational support)

Develop volunteer capacity for future community engagement work

  • Share knowledge, resources and volunteering opportunities at existing GMCR volunteer meetings
  • Create a toolkit of resources for volunteers to use to run their own energy efficiency engagement activities to ensure there is a legacy once the project concludes

Reporting requirements

  • Collect contact details of people engaged (in order to measure energy savings) on behalf of GMCR in a GDPR compliant manner
  • Quarterly reporting of activity undertaken including the following metrics:
  1. Number of parents engaged with energy efficiency advice
  2. Number and type of energy efficiency pledges recorded
  3. Follow up surveys to identify what energy efficiency measures have been installed  / amount of money saved
  4. Number of referrals to deep energy efficiency services (e.g. Carbon Co-op)
  5. Energy efficiency measures installed in schools and associated savings
  6. Amount of Salix funding secured.

Bid requirements
Please provide the following information by 5pm on 30 April 2020:

  • Full details of your proposed approach including the number of events to be held;
  • Details of proposed staff including qualifications;
  • Relevant organisation and staff experience;
  • Timetable;
  • Detailed costs;
  • Contact details for 2 referees for previous similar work.

Please limit bids to a maximum of 10 pages.

Contact details for bids
We are open to discussing potential tenders.  Please send bids and any queries to:
Kate Eldridge, Director, Greater Manchester Community Renewables Ltd

Appendix – Location of GMCR solar arrays

  • Fiddlers Lane Primary School, Irlam
  • Irlam Primary School
  • Primrose Hill Primary School, Ordsall
  • The Fuse, Partington
  • Broadoak Primary School, Swinton
  • Peel Hall Primary School, Little Hulton
  • Monton Green Primary School
  • Springwood Primary School, Swinton
  • Chesham Primary School, Bury

Press Release: Community Solar Schools Project Pays Dividends

Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR) has awarded a grant of £1,000 to Fiddlers Lane Primary School in Irlam.  The school was one of the first to benefit from the community-owned solar panels installed on their roof by GMCR.

Fiddlers Lane community grant 600x450

The cheque was handed over to Sarah Cooper, Head Teacher, by Kate Eldridge, Director GMCR, during school assembly on 16th March in the presence of pupils and teachers, Councillor Tracy Kelly and GMCR volunteers.

Kate said the panels have generated enough clean electricity to make over 4 million cups of tea, as well as saving the school hundreds of pounds on their energy bills, and inspiring children to learn about energy and climate change.

The £1,000 grant will fund an in-school recycling scheme and a video link to the school’s bird box.

Ann McQuirk, School Business Manager said:

“When we embarked on our journey with GMCR who would have thought it would be so life changing for us. We have improved our ethical practice and embedded this in our strategy. This vision of a more sustainable world starts with our children and we have the privilege of passing on to them that there is hope for our future and future generations.”

Ali Abbas, Director GMCR said:

“We’re delighted to be able to award the first grant from our community fund to Fiddlers Lane Primary School.  The school played a significant part in launching our solar schools project back in 2016, and it’s really inspiring to hear about how they’ve embraced the solar panels as a catalyst for engaging young people around the climate and ecological emergency.”

GMCR is a community energy scheme, run entirely by volunteers and owned by members of the community.  Their community fund comprises GMCR’s profits and donations from GMCR members.  The fund can be used for carbon reduction and environmental education projects in the local area.

GMCR would love to hear from any schools or community groups that would like to partner with them in future.

For more information visit



Notes to the editor

1. Greater Manchester Community Renewables Limited (GMCR) is a community benefit society, set up and run by volunteers to install community-owned renewable energy across Greater Manchester. It has 9 solar arrays, totalling c. 350 kWp capacity.

2. Generation meter reading taken at Fiddlers Lane Primary School on 17 December 2019 was 81,508 kWh.  This equates to saving c. 20 tonnes CO2 by displacing electricity drawn from the grid.

3. 4 million cups of tea is calculated based on 81,508 kWh electricity generated by GMCR to date, and using an ‘average kettle’ of 2200 Watts and 1.7L which takes around 4 minutes to boil.

Award Win!

Award Win

We’re delighted to have won the Community Energy Photo Award with our photo of children from Irlam Primary School and Fiddlers Lane Primary School.  It was taken by Bill McLaughlin at the event we organised to celebrate the installation of our solar arrays on their school roofs.  Also pictured are GMCR volunteers, members, our installer, the Mayor of Salford, and one of our directors, Ali, in a fetching sunshine costume.

Community energy relies on people coming together with a shared goal of helping the environment and the community. This image from our Irlam event captures all the different groups who contribute perfectly.

Thank you very much to everyone who voted for us!


2019 installations
The last installation funded by our 2019 share offer took place during half term at Chesham Primary School in Bury.  We’re pleased to be expanding to other boroughs of Greater Manchester and will let you know once we have permission to switch it on!

The panels installed at Monton Green and Springwood Primary Schools in Salford earlier this year have started generating and we hope to get confirmation of the Feed-in Tariff registrations soon.

If you’d like to volunteer for GMCR, we’re having a volunteers meeting on Monday 18 November, at 6.30pm at the Green Fish Resource Centre, 46-50 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LE.  All welcome!

Thanks for your support!

Award Shortlisting and other Autumn news

Award Nomination

In exciting news, GMCR has been shortlisted for the Community Energy photo award!

Our photo shows children from Irlam Primary School and Fiddlers Lane Primary School at the event we organised to celebrate the installation of our solar arrays on their school roofs. Also pictured are GMCR volunteers, members, our installer, the Mayor of Salford, and one of our directors in a fetching sunshine costume.

Community energy relies on people coming together with a shared goal of helping the environment and the community. This image from our Irlam event captures all the different groups who contribute perfectly.

You can vote for us here
Like and retweet this tweet
Voting closes Friday 11 October, 5pm.


2019 installations

We were delighted to raise £100,000 this summer to fund the installation of solar panels at three primary schools.

Panels were installed at Springwood Primary School and Monton Green Primary School (shown below) in the early part of the summer holidays. We’ve sent in the Feed-in Tariff applications for both installations, but we haven’t received permission to switch them on yet. We’re expecting to begin the installation at the third school, Chesham Primary School, soon.

SpringwoodCropped Monton Green Primary School small

Community Fund update

At our recent AGM, members of GMCR agreed to approve the payment of community grants totalling £4,000 in support of carbon reduction, energy efficiency and environmental education projects. We’ll be engaging with our first four sites to discuss this soon.

Community Engagement

We’ve been out promoting GMCR at various events including the Manchester Climate Youth Conference, the Manchester Climate Change Agency AGM and the Manchester Climate Strike.

Environmental education at Peel Hall Primary School – Part 2

GMRC_Primary_LogoMEEN logo

In Part 1, we saw a huge mind map that pupils at Peel Hall Primary School had drawn about climate change when working with Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN).

Following this, the pupils declared they needed to be ambassadors for climate change in order to help change people’s behaviour and were excited at the prospect of running a ‘Carbon Classroom’ on MEEN’s stall at Andy Burnham’s 2019 Green Summit.

They practised their skills first by running a Carbon Classroom for a Year 5 class, when they taught other pupils in the school about climate change.  This session not only shared their knowledge but also built their confidence for their task at the Green Summit.

Peel Hall 1

On the day of the Mayor’s Green Summit, the team enjoyed attending MEEN’s ‘Speak Out’ workshop which encouraged and supported young people in considering their concerns and communicating them – they were particularly pleased that the Mayor came to hear what they had to say.  They also enjoyed looking at the low carbon vehicles outside the conference, but most of all they thought that running the Carbon Classroom was the most useful and enjoyable part of the conference.

The team ran the stall inviting pupils from other schools and adults to engage in climate change activities and they also mixed and mingled with adult conference attendees asking them to discuss the issues.

Peel Hall 4The pupils reported back that they ‘were amazed that some of the adults at the Summit stopped and listened to them’ with the school staff pointing out that such conversations with adults highlighted how dialogue was a ‘good way to solve conflicts’.  The pupils also thought that the people willing to talk to them were probably ‘already campaigning for change’ and were keen to identify people who ‘need telling’, suggesting that they should wear badges such as ‘Oil Company’ so that they would be able to target their stall questions more effectively.

The school is intending to take more steps to protect the planet by planning to hold an ‘Earth Day’ Festival to raise awareness and have begun improving their school grounds by beginning to compost, by planting for pollinators and have attempted to stop cars from dropping off and picking up immediately outside the school gates. They are also looking into becoming an Eco School.Peel Hall 3

You can see how much electricity GMCR’s solar panels at Peel Hall Primary School have generated this week here.

Environmental education at Peel Hall Primary School – Part 1

MEEN logoGMRC_Primary_Logo






GMCR installed solar panels on the roof of Peel Hall Primary School in summer 2018.  You can see how much electricity the solar panels have generated this week here.

As well as generating clean energy and saving carbon, GMCR’s solar panels have become an educational resource for the school; that’s why we introduce the schools we work with to Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN).

MEEN worked with a school team to gather their understanding of climate change and then helped them become educators for the wider community.

For several weeks the team studied information on climate change, played games based on the issues and considered all the angles of climate change and what we need to do to combat it.

The team used their knowledge and understanding to create a huge mind map which included issues such as deforestation, CO2 emissions from transport and heating, emissions from rubbish and waste, food issues such as cows’ burps and farts and the impacts on biodiversity and the jet stream.

Peel Hall mind map

See Part 2 for how the students got on at the Mayor’s Green Summit…