Scoring big on sustainability, young footballers team up to slash clubs energy costs.

14th September 2023

SOLAR power is the answer to spiraling energy costs at a football club in Cleator Moor with the issue being tackled head on by young players at the club. 

Cleator Moor Celtic is facing bills of more than £10,000 a year so players, with a little help from West Cumbrian businesses, looked for a solution to slash the costs in half and make the club more sustainable. 

The club approached the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) to help them come up with a solution. A collaboration was born between Cleator Moor Celtic, iSH and Co-Lab Engineering and 15 footballers, aged 12-14, were invited to take part in a three day event to come up with an engineering solution. 

The ‘Greener than Green’ project was made possible by a diverse range of businesses, from one-person start-ups to major multinationals, working with the community to help give the young people skills which will help them find future employment and secure the future of their club. 

The inaugural Co-Lab Engineering Junior Academy, has already seen a range of organisations collaborate including iSH, Jacobs, Westinghouse, React, Technology Consortia Ltd, Radiance Renewable Energy Solutions and Cleator Moor Celtic Football Club.

Options including wind turbines, better irrigation systems and solar power were looked at by the group.

At the end of the event it was decided that solar panels could be the answer to the clubs prayers and now iSH and the club are identifying what funding is available to make the £40,000 scheme happen. 

“The energy crisis is really affecting small clubs like ours. We have been around for more than 100 years and we’d love to be here for another 100 – at least,” says Peter Hodgson of Cleator Moor Celtic. 

He added: “But with prices rocketing we need to become sustainable, self-sufficient and reduce our carbon footprint. We also want to be seen as actively protecting the environment.” 

iSH has already put in a funding application for half of the amount and is hoping to get match funding from other relevant funds or businesses within the West Cumbrian community. 

Peter continued: “The continuation of the club is vital to the town. Not everyone will play football but there’s a social hub they can meet in. It’ll give them all a sense of pride and a sense of achievement that I hope spreads into the town. 

“Without iSH this event wouldn’t have happened. They are very welcome and needed in our community and they could see the benefit of this project. Yes, we hope to see the project delivered with funding for the solar panels, and our thanks must go to the iSH team for pursuing as many avenues as possible to secure it for us, but the benefits are already being felt. For me, this is already a phenomenal success story.

“The work that they are doing is so popular and their interaction with community clubs is fantastic, there are a lot of people going to feel a lot of benefit. They have supported us and pushed us. They have given the kids an opportunity not afforded to them otherwise. 

“They are a breath of fresh air and they can only be beneficial to the area. Without their vision and drive the opportunities won’t be there for the kids of Cleator Moor. 

“Running the sessions was exactly what we hoped it would be. The students involved gave up their holiday time to come along and take part in engineering and now we want them to see their ideas come to fruition. 

“Making the club sustainable is very important but more importantly was showing the girls and boys involved what it is like working in engineering. It was originally predominantly aimed at girls and we did pretty much have an even split. Of the girls who attended some are now actively pursuing how they get into a career in engineering which is just fantastic. That’s a real win too. 

“But for all of them, they get to have the involvement in Greener than Green on their CVs. They took away massive personal benefits and they got to interact with experts too. The things we take for granted, like how we create energy, they got an insight into.” 

Hannah Pears, iSH Education Liaison Officer, said: “It was such a pleasure to work with these young footballers and to see their determination to support their club, it really makes what we do so worthwhile. 

“Here at iSH we are all about collaboration. Here we worked with businesses of all sizes who have a presence in West Cumbria, the club and the young people to come up with a project that will future proof this much loved football club. 

“We are now working to secure the funding that’s needed and have already put in a bid and hope to hear good news soon.”