Centre for Alternative Technology receives £650,000 Thanks to Graham and Margaret Sheppard

CAT charity has received its biggest donation from an individual in its 35-year history thanks to Margaret and Graham Sheppard. Graham, who was a long time supporter of CAT sadly passed away four years ago leaving his house as a legacy to the organisation.
Margaret remembers that Graham had decided that he wanted to leave a legacy to a worthy cause and that “We were so impressed when we first visited CAT. Graham just said, yes, this is the way things have got to go”

James Cass speaking on behalf of CAT said, “this is a fantastic donation to CAT’s activities, we are incredibly grateful to the Sheppard’s.”

The proceeds from the sale of the house will go towards the completion of the building of the Welsh Institute for Sustainable Education. The WISE institute will provide a state of the art educational facility at CAT in Machnylleth. Built to the highest environmental standards the building will include a 200-seat lecture theatre incorporating the highest rammed earth structure in the UK. Graham and Margaret Sheppard
CAT will be calling the lecture theatre Sheppard in honour of Grahams memory. James Cass also said that ” We at CAT are incredibly grateful for this generous gift to CAT that enables us to carry on our work. We are also particularly grateful to Margaret whose steadfast friendship to our organisation has made all this possible”

For further information or to contact the CAT media department

CAT student to cycle 20,000 for £20,000

Chris Pasby enrolled this week to study an Msc in Architecture: Advanced Renewable Energy Studies at CAT’s renowned graduate school. But unlike other students at CAT, many who come on the train, Chris who lives in the French Alps cycled here to raise money for CAT. After leaving his home in the French Alps on Tuesday 2nd of September he cycled an astonishing 1,300 km in just 8 days- arriving at 2pm on Thursday 10th of September.
Chris has pledged that every journey he makes between his home in the French alp and CAT will be made overland and that this journey was just the beginning.

“ Every journey will be to raise awareness and money about this important organization, maybe next time I’ll swim the channel and run from Portsmouth”

Chris says that he cycles to raise awareness about the environment, and promote cycling as a healthy alternative form of transport.

“I hope to raise 20,000 for CAT in 20,000 miles, but first of all I have a week of learning ahead!”

For further information about Chrises adventures please contact


Watch your Waste

On Sunday, CAT was delighted to be host to a Co Operative supermarkets member’s event.The straw bale theatre was transformed into a celebrity chef style kitchen as chef Mark Earnden  took to the stage! The Co-operative is conducting a series of Watch your Waste cookery demonstrations to raise awareness of issues surrounding food waste and to support WRAP with their Love Food Hate Waste campaign. The informative talk and demonstration was led by community chef, Mark Earnden. Mark provided the audience with fast and easy tips on how best to use left over’s and demonstrate healthy, easy recipes.

We say yum yum!

Sustainable Land Use Seminar

Over 80 people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds met yesterday at CAT to discuss and debate sustainable land use in a Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) scenario. The seminar asked key questions that society must address if we are to prevent catastrophic climate change. Peter Harper speaking for CAT said,     “ ZCB is a plan for a rapid decarbonisation scenario, at 5% reduction in emission per year”

Peter also said that there is currently is a “huge gap between what is physically needed and what might be politically realistic”

The seminar called for a re ranking in the priorities of land use away from highly emitting practices and towards looking for economic incentives for low emission practices to be deployed across the agricultural sector. The seminar asked some hugely topical questions and agreed that whilst there was no absolute answer yet we must deal with the realities of climate change. The next seminar on ZCB will be from the 2nd- 4th of October Power and Place: good energy practice in the transition from fossil fuel dependency

Consumption versus Community: article for Ethical Consumer magazine

“The task of the truly concerned citizen is not simply to navigate through various consumer choices remaining as ethically pure as possible. Our task must be to fully engage in whatever way we can to bring about positive change”

Last month Ethical Consumer magazine asked us to write a piece about technological versus community or political solutions to climate change. You can subscribe to Ethical Consumer here. The full article is below:

Technology obviously plays a vital role in tackling climate change. Smart meters of various kinds and smart appliances are clearly a crucial part of the jigsaw that allows us to monitor and reduce our carbon emissions. But we must be careful not forget the rest of the jigsaw. Looking at the impact of the rest of your lifestyle is still vital. Engaging in the climate change debate, communicating the issues and using your voice a citizen to bring about wider change are all crucially important at the moment.

Continue reading “Consumption versus Community: article for Ethical Consumer magazine”

Playing for the planet 2: the power down carnival

by Alex Randall Media Department

This summer children visiting CAT had the chance to explore climate change and renewable energy in a series of play activities and carnivals. The activities allowed children to explore how our reliance on fossil fuels affects the climate and what the alternatives are.

Here are some photos from last weeks ‘Power Down’ carnival in which children made their own transport out of recycled materials, dressed up as people from their vision of a zero carbon future, paraded around site and finished on the lawn with smoothies from the bike powered smoothie maker and music powered by our bike generator.

Turned on! The UK’s First Micro Grid Goes Online

This week, Jase Kuriakose an engineer at CAT turned on the UK’s first totally renewable micro grid. The systems works by combining all the wind, solar, bio mass and hydro energy we produce at CAT and storing it in a battery bank. When it needs more energy it simply connects to the grid through an intelligent electronic control device to take more, when we are producing too much it gives the energy to the national grid.

Jase, the engineer behind the island generation project
Jase, the engineer behind the island generation project

Currently we waste around 65% of energy from power stations by transporting it to our homes, not only that but the electricity sector in the EU is responsible for over 1,2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Something that Jase says is unsustainable.

There is a vital need and enormous opportunity to move towards a more sustainable decentralised system, which protects the climate and provide future generations with secure energy.”

Continue reading “Turned on! The UK’s First Micro Grid Goes Online”

PHOTOS: construction site tour of the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education

On Friday Phil Horton the project manager of our biggest building project took some of the CAT staff on a tour of the construction site. The Wales Institute for Sustainable Education is the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken. Phil showed us many of the sustainability features of the building including the hemp lime render and rammed earth walls in the lecture theatre.

Here are some of the photos from the tour

Blog of the week: this week we’ve been reading (and talking about) climateethics.org

by Alex Randall

Climate Ethics takes a rather different slant to the numerous other climate change and environment blogs.


News and commentary on the latestest climate change events is relativly easy to find in the climate blogoshphere. Climate Ethics has a different aproach. Rather than looking and analysing the science or policy behind the headlines they take a look at the ethics. While other blogs and news outlets might use a science, policy or a particular political outlook to examine climate change, climateethics.org keeps it’s commentary firmly grounded in ethics. We can’t promise you that you’ll agree with everything they write. The nature of ethics is that its open to question and debate. But if you’re looking for a new slant then we highly recommend reading it for a couple of weeks and seeing how you get along.

If you’d like to suggest something for next weeks blog of the week, post a comment.

CAT in the news: who’s talking about us this week and what they’re saying

Learning exercise: Welsh universities have a wealth of natural resources on tap for adventurous students

For schools, colleges and universities in Wales, the centre at Machynlleth in Powys, half an hour’s drive from Aberystwyth, is a resource that runs a free information service, visits for schools and residential courses.

The centre has teamed up with the University of East London which validates specialist diplomas and Masters degrees delivered by academic staff at the centre. It offers an architecture MSc and a Masters in renewable energy and the built environment. Student Owen Morgan, 26, says enrolling on the MSc course helped him land a job with Bright Light Solar, a mid-Wales renewable energy company which provides solar powered vaccine fridges, water pumps and heating systems to rural areas worldwide.

“Everyone is there because they are passionate about sustainability. We inspire each other to push the frontiers of what can be achieved,”

Q&A: Renewable energy: The UK aims to produce 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020. Alok Jha explains the technology behind the target

By 2007, there were 2GW of turbines installed. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) says 9GW of offshore wind will be in place by 2015, overtaking installed nuclear power. This month, Centrica and RWE npower came close to approving two offshore wind farms costing an estimated £3bn.

According to the Centre for Alternative Technology, wave power could supply 10% of the UK’s energy needs but this technology is at a much earlier stage. Although there are scores of British designs for wave energy converters, none are anywhere near commercial scale.


Eco homes: how to slash your fuel bills. Funding is available for those wanting to go green.

The Centre for Alternative Technology, a think-tank for energy-saving devices for more than 35 years, says the credit crunch has led to a surge in interest in eco-measures.

“People are beginning to think about investing their money in something that will provide them with affordable, reliable energy, whatever the economic climate,” says spokesman David Hood.

Continue reading “CAT in the news: who’s talking about us this week and what they’re saying”