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Competitions and challenges

This is one of six hydroelectric systems being brought back to life by The Green Valleys, one of the Finalists of NESTA's Big Green Challenge competition. The Green Valleys is a community interest company based in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. The Green Valleys hope to reduce carbon emissions, mitigate the risks of flooding and provide local residents with cheap, renewable energy. Through hydro, wind and thermal power (some of which will be community-owned) Green Valleys is hoping to make the 520sq mile area energy independent. Excess energy will be sold back to the Grid, generating a steady income stream for the company.

Competitions and challenges can be an effective means of uncovering new sources of social innovation. They can also help accelerate the development of new solutions to social problems. Unlike the private market, however, competition is not always the driving force behind the development of new innovations in the social economy. This means that competitions need to be structured in such a way that participants have the opportunity to collaborate, share and learn with each other. Examples include NESTA’s Big Green Challenge and the various X-Prizes (see method 94 for more information on the Big Green Challenge and method 407 for X Prizes.