CAT celebrates the next generation of graduates ‘making it happen’

Graduates from the Centre for Alternative Technology celebrate their academic successes at ceremony.

CAT Graduation
CAT’s CEO Adrian Ramsay addresses Graduates and their families in the rammed earth lecture theatre

Over 40 students from the Graduate School of the Environment at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth celebrated the successful completion of their studies with an award ceremony on Saturday 14th November.

The evening also included a buffet dinner, a welcome from CAT’s chief executive Adrian Ramsay and a keynote speech by Professor Herbert Girardet, leading environmental commentator and author of several books including the seminal “Blueprint for a Green Planet” (1987) and “Creating Regenerative Cities” (2014).

class of 2015
The class of 2015 – CAT Graduation

The event saw students graduate from all of CAT’s postgraduate programmes: MSc Renewable Energy and the Built Environment, Professional Diploma in Architecture, MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies and MSc Sustainability and Adaptation.

Adrian Ramsay, CEO of CAT, said they were the people who would be ‘making it happen’ in the transition to a zero carbon future:

“The world faces many challenges in the transition to a zero carbon future. The knowledge and skills that our graduates learn by studying at the Graduate School for the Environment equip them well to be the people making it happen. We are very proud of this year’s CAT graduates and look forward to hearing about their successes as they take the knowledge gained from their time at CAT into their careers, communities and home lives.”

Five students received particular awards for excellence in their dissertations. Helen Nicholls received an award for her dissertation comparing the impact of different waste water treatment systems on climate change. Lee Eyre received an award for his research into the role of metaphor in the world views of environmentalists. Elgan Roberts’ award-winning study looked at the greenhouse gas emissions from small scale hydroelectric schemes in Wales. Anne-Clare Landolt received an award for her dissertation on storing heat to improve greenhouse growing conditions. Lucy Jones also received an award for her technical report on a more sustainable alternative to supermarkets.

graduation buffet
CAT congratulates the class of 2015 with a buffet dinner

This year’s graduates join over one thousand people who have graduated from CAT’s postgraduate courses and are working for sustainability in their work and communities across the UK and around the world. CAT graduates have taken their skills to many professions which need expertise in sustainability and many companies have been set up by CAT graduates, bringing innovative solutions to environmental problems.

Photographs by Eveleigh Photography

graduation bar
Celebrating in the bar after the ceremony

Cwrdd yn y Canol/Meet in the Middle


[Scroll down for English]

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

A WISE use for Local Charities

The Centre for Alternative Technology is offering local charities the opportunity to use meeting rooms at its educational and conference centre, the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE), for free. If you work or volunteer for a charity in the SY20 area and are looking for a special place to hold meetings, then the WISE building could be the place for you. Situated in the stunning Dulas valley in mid-Wales, WISE has impressive facilities that can deliver successful conferences, meetings, training sessions or one-off events.

“ The WISE building is a tremendous resource, with its state of the art  facilities and outstanding sustainability credentials, CAT would like to be able to share that with the many organisations in our local area who are doing important work” Kim Bryan, CAT spokesperson.

The WISE building opened in 2012 and has won several national awards for its ecological credentials. Based at CAT’s site near Machynlleth, the building hosts several meeting rooms, workshop space and a 200 seater lecture theatre. En-suite accommodation and catering can also be arranged for delegates.The offer is open to all charities in the SY20 area, six times per year and is available for meeting rooms only. Please contact Sarah at or on 01654 704973 for reservations and more information.

The Great Outdoors 2012 at CAT: Connecting artists and audiences with the outdoors in Wales

Friendly Debate

Friendly DebateWe would like to congratulate everyone that took part in The Great Outdoors 2012 last week, which was organised by Articulture Wales. CAT was glad to play host to the event and it was great to see so many passionate people working together to promote Welsh art in the outdoors. No fewer than a hundred and thirty representatives took part in what was, without a doubt, a hugely successful conference.

WISEThe event was run by Articulture Wales, a local arts organisation in Machynlleth that promotes performance and puppetry, and included inspirational talks from creative practitioners of various arts, including John Fox from Welfare State International, John McGrath from National Theatre Wales and Ali Williams from No Fit State Circus. It was Wales’ first national conference for outdoor performance and artists from all areas of the UK gathered to discuss their ideas. Open discussion was encouraged in order to generate ambitious new outdoor performance projects. Everyone who attended had plenty to contribute and it showed in the debate that followed. There were also fantastic workshops and the day finished with an informal series of conversations between the delegates. It was great to see so much creativity in such an inspirational setting.

The BarEarlier this year CAT hosted the Emergence Summit, a major arts and sustainability event exploring how artists and scientists can work together to co-create the future. Part of the event was a five-day Land Journey across Wales, engaging participants with the outdoors and the beautiful, natural landscape of the Dyfi Valley. Although Emergence held a strong sustainability agenda, the Great Outdoors focused primarily on performance in the outdoors. However at CAT we feel that outdoor performance in itself engenders greater respect, awareness and care for the environment as it engages artists and the audience with landscapes and the environment. We believe that the arts and science can realise a shared goal of creating a more ecologically sound future rich with creative expression. This event was no exception. We are certain that everyone involved went away brimming with bold new ideas. CAT certainly did!

ConversationIf you have a project and are interested in exploring themes of sustainability and renewable energy in partnership with CAT, please get in touch with us:


Forum and Feast an enlightening day of discussion about food waste


Last Saturday, This is Rubbish in collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology held Forum and Feast, a day of talks and workshops exploring the issue of food waste. With 8.3 million tonnes of largely avoidable food waste generated on an annual basis, it’s a highly pertinent issue.

The day began with an enlightening panel discussion, chaired by Jill Evans, MEP and featuring Dr Andy Rees (Head of Waste Strategy at the Welsh Government), Dr Adrian Morley (Research Associate at Business Relationship, Accountability, Sustainability and Society), Emma Marsh (Love Food Hate Waste) and Professor Martin Caraher (City University).

The panellists discussed why we waste food on the scale that we do, and what possible options for reducing the impact may be. There was general agreement from the panel about what the drivers of food waste are, thought to be the consumer model used for the food industry which masks the true cost of what we buy; the monetary value put on food fails to represent its real value.

The panel during the first session of the forum

Amongst some of the startling facts mentioned by the panel was the revelation that, since WWII, food waste has increased from 2% to 25%.

The panelists also emphasised how a loss of basic cooking skills, as well as a tangible connection to the origin of food, has created a wasteful food culture.

On the matter of solving the issue, the panellists had less consensus, with some in support of voluntary waste reduction targets, and some doubtful of their efficacy, preferring mandatory targets enshrined in law. The role of the consumer was also debated: Emma Marsh saw consumer behaviour change as integral to forming a solution, though acknowledged its complexity as a ‘hidden’ nature (not generating food waste is less visible than other environmentally conscious behaviours such as recycling). Martin Caraher, however, was suspicious of “blaming the consumer for the faults of the system.”

Interesting and stimulating talks were presented by Paul Allen (from CAT, on Zero Carbon Britain and the food supply chain and available to listen to here) and Caitlin Shepherd (from This is Rubbish on highlights from the Feast tour and plans for the future).

The afternoon saw participants engage with the issue in two different workshops. CAT’s Cara Whelan facilitated a workshop on food waste reduction initiatives serving businesses and communities, while playwright Sarah Wood facilitated a workshop on the role of market leaders in preventing food waste.

Later, after a screening of DIVE by Jeremy Seifert, participants were treated to a theatrical three-course food waste feast. Serenaded at the table by Folking Rubbish and Bard, diners enjoyed caramelised onion soup with sourdough, vegetable stacks with aubergine, pepper, cheese, basil pesto, potato gratis and cucumber salad, and a damson and apple crumble with yoghurt.

On-shore renewables offer massive opportunities, but are we failing to grasp them?


Paul has been at CAT for over twenty years, and is now Director of Outreach. Trained as an engineer, he helped design, develop and produce a wide range of renewable energy systems including solar-powered medical systems for use in Bosnia, Eritrea and many other parts of the world. Paul now leads the Zero Carbon Britain strategy programme, liaising with key policy-makers and business leaders to spread CAT’s message. Below, he writes about the Future of Renewable Energy in Wales conference that was held recently at CAT.

In the 18 months since the launch of Zero Carbon Britain there has been a flurry of new scenarios showing how renewables can make a big difference to our energy supply. Scotland is steaming ahead with its objective of meeting 100% of electricity demand with renewable energy by 2020. Launched this week a new WWF report “Positive Energy: how renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030” recommends that a target should be set for renewables to supply at least 60% of UK electricity demand by 2030. Together with appropriate long-term policies and investment, this will give the renewable energy supply chain the certainty it needs to invest in the UK. By using this amount of renewable energy, we can decarbonise the power sector without resorting to new nuclear power. We will also be able to maintain system security – that is, provide enough electricity at all times to make sure there’s never a risk of the ‘lights going out’.

A conference attendee puts a question to the panel.

However the latest State of the Industry report from trade association RenewableUK revealed that planning approval rates in 2010/11 for new wind farms fell by 11 per cent to an all-time low of just 42 per cent. Meanwhile, the average amount of time projects wait for planning approval increased from 24 to 33 months.

To catalyse a process of closer collaboration to make wind happen, in October 2011, CAT hosted a conference bringing together key players in the future of renewable energy in Wales. The event was very well attended, providing a unique forum for discussion between industry, nature conservation bodies, government, planning consultants and third sector agents on how to better achieve our goals for clean energy generation in Wales. The event resulted in agreement to explore much deeper collaborations.

The panel (left to right: Peter Davies, Brian Morgan, Chair Cynog Dafis)

One of the crucial areas identified was planning, not least as in Wales it has been devolved, and is in the control of Welsh Government. To further explore this area, Eversheds are holding a conference on “Planning for renewable energy in Wales: Essential policy update & practical guidance on Welsh planning projects” on the 29th November in Cardiff. This conference sets out to provide an update on changes to the planning process, provide practical guidance on building successful applications for renewable energy projects, and explore how to overcome key problems associated with Welsh planning procedures.  For more details see this brochure.

Podcast: interview with This is Rubbish

Interview with Rachel Solnick and Kate Blair from This is Rubbish.

This is Rubbish were formed in 2009 to raise awareness about the amount of food wasted in the UK. Since their beginnings at Feeding the 5000, a mass food waste feast in London that fed 5000, they have organized various events. 2011 has seen them tour Wales with ‘Feast’, stopping in eight communities and setting up a pop up cafe, hosting workshops, games and creative events.

The finale of their tour will be Forum and Feast on November the 5th, held at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Previous podcasts

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Win a place at the Forum and Feast Conference, 05 November 2011

Do you want to come to our fantastic Forum and Feast Conference? Do you want to a free ticket? We thought you would.

To win a free ticket to the the event all you have to do is answer this simple question.
What percentage of the food that goes to waste in the UK is wasted in the supply chain? Is it
a) 12 %
b) 60 %
c) 90 %

The answer to the question might be contained in this blog post. Please email us your answer.

Renewable energy in Wales: conference at CAT October 17th

Current protests over wind power are threatening the future of the renewable energy industry in Wales, slowing down the development of sustainable low carbon technologies and starving our communities of vital investment in regeneration, jobs and infrastructure. Furthermore, they are obstructing the development of green skills, training and research which could revitalise our manufacturing industry to the benefit of many small and large businesses. It is time for the renewable energy industry and its supporters  to work together to communicate a shared vision to build a sustainable, low carbon Wales and rebuild confidence and trust in the future of our Welsh green economy and the many benefits that renewable energy offers.

The Future of Renewable Energy in Wales / Centre for Alternative Technology / October 17th / book your place

The conference in October will provide a forum for discussion over a new vision to deliver a successful future for clean energy generation in Wales. Ultimately this may lead to the launch of a broad organisation to speak for all individuals and organisations that want to see Wales do more to generate electricity from renewable sources.

Turbine Nacelle