Cwrdd yn y Canol/Meet in the Middle


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Lleoliad cynadledda cynaliadwy yng nghalon Canolbarth Cymru

Mae WISE yn ganolfan sydd wedi ennill gwobrau lawer, ac mae yma gyfleusterau modern, trawiadol, a chynaliadwy ar gyfer cynnal cynadleddau, cyfarfodydd, sesiynau hyfforddi a digwyddiadau unigol. Mae’r lleoliad yn nyffryn hardd Dulas yng nghanolbarth Cymru ac yn hawdd cyrraedd ato ar hyd y ffordd fawr ynghyd â gwasanaethau trên rheolaidd i Fachynlleth gerllaw.

Mae WISE yn cynnig profiad cynadledda unigryw, lleoliad gyda theatr ddarlithio o 200 sedd wedi’i wneud o ddaear gywasgedig. Mae nifer o stafelloedd llai ar gyfer grwpiau o wahanol faint a digwyddiadau llai. Mae WISE hefyd yn cynnig llety en suite ar gyfer hyd at 48 o bobl a gwasanaeth arlwyo hyd at 200 o bobl.

Mae WISE wedi’i leoli ar safle canolfan eco fwya blaenllaw Ewrop, sef y Ganolfan Dechnoleg Amgen sy’n defnyddio pŵer trydan adnewyddol. Mae WISE yn rhoi naws gwahanol i ddigwyddiadau.Rydyn ni ar hyn o bryd yn cynnig gostyngiad o 20% ar bob archeb tan ddiwedd Ebrill. Os gwelwch yn dda, a wnewch chi gyfeirio at yr hysbyseb hwn wrth ymateb?The WISE building

Cysylltwch â Sarah ar 01654  704973 neu e-bostiwch

Meet in the Middle
Sustainable conference venue in the heart of Mid- Wales

WISE is an award winning venue, with impressive, modern and sustainable facilities for successful conferences, meetings, training sessions and one-off events. Nestled in the stunning Dulas valley in mid-Wales and easily accessible by road, with regular rail services to nearby Machynlleth, WISE offers a unique conference experience. The venue features a 200 seat rammed earth lecture theatre and a number of smaller rooms that can cater for different size groups and smaller events. WISE also offers en suite accommodation  for up to 48 delegates  and catering facilities for up to  200  delegates.

Situtated at the site of Europe’s leading eco centre, the Centre for Alternative Technology and powered by renewable electricity,  WISE inspires events with a difference.

We are now offering a 20% discount on all bookings until the end of April. Please mention this email when responding.

Please contact Sarah on 01654  704973 or email

Sail away in a traditional Welsh coracle

A new 2 day course at CAT from the 6th-7th of April will enable participants to build their very own coracle, the course covers everything from weaving the willow structure to applying the outer waterproof layer and exploring the role of the coracle in Welsh society.  Ideal for anyone who wants to learn how to make a coracle and does not require previous knowledge of working with willow.
Since pre Roman times, the Coracle has been used by humans for fishing and transporting humans and goods. Coracles can be found throughout the world, from the India, Vietnam and Tibet, to Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, where they can be seen in use in three west Wales river, The Teifi, The Towy and The Taf.

An important aspect to the Welsh Coracle is that it can be carried on by just one person, hence the Welsh saying . ‘Llwyth dyn ei gorwgl’ — the load of a man is his coracle.

In Wales there are several different types of coracle, tailored to the river condition and its intended use. Oval in shape, the structure is made of a framework of split and interwoven willow rods, tied with willow bark. The outer layer was originally an animal skin such as horse hide, with a thin layer of tar to make it fully water proof – today replaced by tarred calico or canvas or simply fibreglass.

Each coracle is unique in design, The Teifi coracle, for instance, is flat bottomed, as it is designed to negotiate shallow rapids, common on the river in the summer, while the Carmarthen coracle is rounder and deeper, because it is used in tidal waters on the Tywi, where there are no rapids. Teifi coracles use no nails, relying on the interweaving of the lats for structural coherence, whilst the Carmarthen ones use copper nails and no interweaving.

Coracles are effective fishing vehicles as they hardly disturb the water or the fish and can easily be manoeuvred with one arm whilst the other tends the fishing net. The coracle is propelled by means of a broad-bladed paddle used towards the front of the coracle,pulling the boat forward, with the paddler facing in the direction of travel.

For press enquiries and photos please contact 01654 705 957

For further information on the coracle making course at CAT please contact 01654 704 952 or look at our webpage

20% off WISE venue hire


The Wales Institute for Sustainable Education at CAT makes a fantastic choice of venue for meetings, gatherings, seminars, conferences, weddings and even 40th birthday parties. The range of facilities from the 200-seat lecture theatre, workshop spaces, smaller class rooms,  restaurant and bar area make it an ideal venue for both large and small groups of people.

The award winning WISE building is nestled in the Dyfi valley and surrounded by spectacular scenery.  The building has been constructed using low impact materials such as rammed earth, hemp and lime and locally sourced wood.  It recently won the Dewi Tomos award and has been short listed for a RIBA award in 2011.

CAT is currently offering 20% off discounts on all bookings for the month of April.

For more information please contact Sarah on 01654 704973 or email



Energy democracy through open source technology


“The beauty of open source technologies and processes is that we can all get involved in developing the idea, whether that be as a geeky developer hacking new code or as a householder testing out kit.” Jonathan Atkinson, Carbon Co-op, Manchester.

A new course at the Centre for Alternative Technology from 25th – 28th of March will be doing just that. The course will include energy monitoring theory and system design from householder to micro-grid scale. The course is taught by Carlos Alonso Gabizon, Trystan Lea, Sunil Tagore and Glyn Hudson who have developed and devised the hardware and software from the project.

OpenEnergyMonitor is a project to develop open-source energy monitoring tools to help us relate to our use of energy, our energy systems and the challenge of sustainable energy.

The future of energy production in the UK depends a great deal on who owns and controls the means of production. There is a choice to be made, between big corporations prioritising profit making and community owned schemes. Climate change, rising energy prices, economic instability and dwindling social cohesion are some of the challenges the world faces over the coming decades. Across the UK and around the world, people are coming together with their neighbours and showing that, with a bit of dedication and community spirit, it’s possible for ordinary people to make real progress on a whole range of big issues- including taking control of their energy usage and production.

Energy democracy means making our energy solutions more open, it brings everybody together in planning, deciding and implementing local and renewable energy. For energy democracy to work open source technologies are vital. Open source takes the control away from large companies and places it in the hands of the people. It stimulates local economies and small scale manufacturing, making technologies accessible to all.

There are a wide range of open source projects, from software such as Mozilla, operating systems such as Android and Linux, hard ware such as Arduino, even some types of beer. There is also an increasing number of inspiring open source energy projects such as Onawi, an organisation that aims to make designs of wind turbines freely available and River Simple who have made their design for hydrogen cars open source.

The open source energy monitoring project is another example. Currently the Big six energy companies are supplying ‘free’ energy monitors to homes. Whilst this is a good thing as it encourages people to become more aware of their energy usage, there is a darker flip side, as Jonathan Atkinson states in his article about open source energy monitoring,

“ For now, big technology companies such as Cisco, Siemens and IBM are involved in a kind of ‘data grab’. They’re aggressively pushing their kit and software, distributing free equipment and incentives to make sure their technology sets the data standard for the smart meters. As with other sectors, the ability to control, manage and sell data is extremely lucrative. The virtual data commons we own and generate are being commodified and stolen.”

This is a complete contrast to open-source monitoring hardware and software that empowers the user to be in full control of when, how and where energy data is logged.

The Carbon Co-op , a co-operative based in Greater Manchester, aims to help members make radical reductions in household power through the installation of energy-saving measures such as external wall insulation or solar panels.

They had been grappling with how to empower members through a better understanding of energy use. Rather than collaborate with one of the big technology companies, they have entered into a partnership with Open Source Energy Monitors.

The open source energy monitor project has been set up by a group who describe themselves as an “active open research community of energy enthusiasts, engineers, programmers and makers pushing open source energy monitoring forward.” They have devised and developed an open source energy monitor that can be assembled and built at home. Using open source technology such as the Rasperry Pi micro computer and Arduino programming language the monitors are flexible, modular and robust and can collect data from a variety of sensors from electricity usage to gas, humidity, temperature and even carbon dioxide (an indicator of air flow and therefore of the draughtiness of a house).”

The OpenEnergyMonitor project are running the first course of its kind at the Centre for Alternative Technology from the 25th to the 28th of March. The course will include

Energy monitoring theory and system design.

● Electronics PCB assembly, soldering

● Arduino firmware

● Web application programming

● Using digital fabrication tools (reprap) Digital objects to physical objects

● 3D CAD programs, and tools chains for controlling an open source 3D printer

● Sensors: CT current, temperature, wind, electricity.. In the evening there will be discussions with facilitation

● Workshop: “What do we value? What are our aims? How does this relate to different ‘systems of production? and the role that open source plays.”

● Workshop: “limits of the technology in the environmental, social and economic aspects”

For more information on the course follow this link.

What are they doing now? We catch up with former students

As part of a new series of blogs we will be talking to some of our former students about what they are  doing now. This week Mauritz Lindeque tells us about how his thesis in MSc in Architecture and Advanced, Environmental and Energy studies has influenced his career.

I was a Distance learning student on the MSc AEES program. I was living in Tanzania at the time that I started on the program. The job and responsibilities that I had while in Tanzania was as a  development manager for a hunting company. We managed 9 Mill Acres of land in very remote parts of Tanzania where all of our 16 camps were off-grid and had to be self sustaining. I started the MSc program to learn more about green and sustainable development as operating with these principles reduces the demand for resources that is very expensive to transport in remote areas of Africa.

Half way through my third second year on the program I returned to South Africa to complete my Thesis. The topic was in Renewable Energy in particular Bio gas from anaerobic digestion (AD). I was employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) South Africa, to design build and operate an automated AD. This I completed and am now employed to commercialize the patented system. The CSIR is the National Research institute that is also the largest scientific research institute on the continent of Africa.
We are now using the pilot plant as a research platform to test site specific sludge to establish the energy potential of that sludge for different clients ranging from agricultural to municipal waste to energy projects.
The waste to energy concept from municipal waste is growing in SA and we are now in the process of developing a laboratory to test mechanical or biological interventions for different sludge types that may increase the gas yield of such projects. This is to the benefit of South Africa as we have 343 Municipal waste water plants that use ADs.  This was all started from that thesis for the MSc project and the development of the pilot scale automated AD.

New Green Roof display for CAT building


Thanks to £1996 by People’s Postcode Trust, CAT has been able to build  a new green roof display for the visitor centre, bringing together the two core interests of eco-building and organic gardening. Green roofs are environmentally beneficial in many ways. They have been shown to encourage biodiversity, reduce flooding in urban areas, control temperature in buildings and create garden spaces for people to enjoy.

The project will create a feature in CAT’s visitor centre, and make the building more natural, educational and inspiring for the 50,000 people that come to CAT each year. These will include the visiting public, schoolchildren, adults on short courses and CAT’s own postgraduate architecture students. It will also create a new space cultivable by CAT’s organic gardeners and volunteers.

Carwyn Jones, CAT’s Buildings and Maintenance Officer, said “While we’re doing the work, this will be a great opportunity for visitors and local people to see for themselves the process of making a turf roof. We’re grateful to the People’s Postcode Trust for enabling us to give a new lease of life to one of the original buildings from the sites days as a working quarry”

People’s Postcode Lottery is Britain’s charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for good causes. As a charity lottery, £2 from every monthly lottery ticket goes towards charities and community initiatives across England, Scotland and Wales, including People’s Postcode Trust. People’s Postcode Lottery believes in supporting local communities so the money raised by players in each country, stays in that country.

To find out more about applying for People’s Postcode Trust funding and the projects which the Trust supports visit .

If you’d like to be in with a chance to win cash prizes while supporting great local charities, sign up for People’s Postcode Lottery at, or call 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5.



What are they doing now? We catch up with CAT students…


As part of a new series of blogs we will be talking to some of our ex students about what they’re doing now. This week Magnus Murray tells us about how his MSc in Architecture and Advanced, Environmental and Energy studies brought a new dimension to his humanitarian and international development work.

I was part of the 2006 – 2008 AEES course, full time at  CAT, it was great and I learned so much. Since then I returned to my former world of humanitarian aid and international development.  I was recruited by the British Government’s Department for International Development soon after the devastating floods of 2010 in Pakistan, to act as an advisor on shelter and water-sanitation projects.

Very soon I realised how few people in donors, NGOs and local Government were familiar with the issues we had become so fluent with: climate change, environmental design and renewable energy.  The entire country is a like a really inefficient oil boiler! In cities people heat water with gas despite the vast solar potential, in rural areas cooking is still done with wood using the most inefficient and smokey fires.  So much to do – and I quickly recognised how the time at CAT had filled my quiver with new tools and concepts  and my address book was now  full of very smart and techie people! Now we are into our third flood response in so many years, and we are supporting over 45,000 families  rebuild their homes using lime based technology and people’s own vernacular designs, at about one fifth the cost of other, conventional construction.

This is great value for money and so much more appropriate for the communities but it requires loads of hands on training in the affected villages.  We’re also trying to introduce ways to manage sewage from camps and communities using constructed wetlands or reed-bed technology, at low cost, to avoid the current practice of allowing sewage to run into the local waterways and pollute drinking water sources.

Lastly, I managed to persuade the humanitarian community here that solar PV and LEDs on 12v rock (make sense) and we should promote them – especially for people living in temporary settlements after they’ve had to leave their homes during the floods. Surrounded by water and wild animals, especially snakes seeking refuge from the waters, people are so unprotected at night.  We have now distributed over 100,000 solar lights, costing around 5 pounds each, saving people over $10m overall, allowing over 600,000 people to see a little better at night.  I like that.  And it’s great that CAT and the AEES got me to see the world with a new green, solar powered lens.

Update on CAT plc

For clarification, the services and activities provided by CAT Charity Ltd, i.e. Graduate School of the Environment, School visit services, Eco Cabins, Research and Visitor Centre along with the support services are unaffected by the recent announcement made by the Directors of CAT Plc.

The overall activities of the Centre for Alternative Technology are split between two legally separate and independently managed companies.

a.      CAT Plc, a company which provides the trading services of the Centre is governed by a Board of Directors; and

b.      CAT Charity Ltd, an educational and sustainable development charity, committed to informing, inspiring and enabling practical solutions for sustainable living is governed by a separate and independent     Board of Trustees.

CAT Plc directors, having taken appropriate financial and legal advice on the future viability of the company have recently provided their shareholders with updated information on the company’s position. It was concluded, being unable to obtain an alternative solution, and to benefit CAT as a whole, that a proposal be submitted to the Trustees of CAT Charity Ltd for their consideration.

CAT Charity Ltd having received a formal proposal from the Directors of CAT Plc has at its Board meeting on the 24th January taken a decision to undertake a financial due diligence process on all activities undertaken by CAT Plc. Following that process, the CAT Charity Ltd Board will consider which of the CAT Plc’s activities would be inappropriate to be absorbed within the Charity, with a decision on the outcome expected to be announced in the near future.


Woody Wednesdays at CAT

If you live locally and fancy getting out in to the great outdoors then come and join our woody wednesdays at CAT’s Coed Gwern Woodland.

Meeting Point – Just outside Pantperthog hall at 9:30am every Wednesday

Join the CAT woodland team for a day of working in the beautiful Coed Gwern Woodland.
A great opportunity to:
· Learn traditional woodland skills and management techniques
· Meet new and interesting people
· Get back to nature – enjoy working with the sound of birdsong in your ears and sun (or rain!) on your face
· Learn about our local wildlife and habits and the simple measure we can do to protect it
· Get invaluable skills and experience to help with future employment
· Tone up after Christmas whilst avoiding the Gym!
· Have Fun!

Tea, Coffee and biscuits will be provided. Please bring packed lunch.
If you are interested in coming along please drop us an email or give us a call.
Phone: 01654 705 970

Inspiring new video about the CAT Graduate School for the Environment

A short film directed and edited by Dylan Byrne exploring the MSc in Renewable Energy and Built Environment at the Centre for Alternative Technology. With interviews from students and tutors including Hugh Piggot, guest lecturer and  wind energy specialist. Dylan Byrne is a student at CAT Graduate School for the Environment and a film maker. Further information about his work can be found here.

Music for the film has been provided with thanks, from Ember