Marks & Spencer’s energy utility M&S Energy has announced the winners of a £400,000 community renewables fund launched in July.

The fund invited individual projects to submit applications, which were then reviewed by both M&S Energy and a judging panel comprising former energy secretary Ed Davey, Forum for the Future’s Giles Bristow, M&S Energy head Jonathan Hazeldine, SSE’s Louise Innes and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The overall national winner, clinching a £40,000 fund allocation, was the Hartlepool Community Solar for Schools project which has been established to enable as many of Hartlepool’s 37 schools to go solar with rooftop installations.

The funding from M&S Energy is to help the project gets its first installation off the ground and pay for a rooftop solar installation on West Park Primary School, which the fund hopes will become a lighthouse project for other schools in the area.

Just Around the Corner – a charity working with disadvantaged children – has been awarded a £20,000 grant as the fund’s second national winner, which will pay for a solar installation on the charity’s Wokingham-based offices.

A further 19 projects received regional prizes, the majority of which will pay for rooftop solar installations to help reduce running costs.

M&S Energy head Jonathan Hazeldine said: “It was brilliant to see communities coming together in support of renewable energy projects in their area – we received over 51,000 votes in total.”

“We have a very worthy list of 26 winners from a whole range of projects which all exemplify the innovative approach communities across the UK are taking to generating their own energy,” he added.