The Centre for Alternative Technology is a visitor centre and training school specialising in green, sustainable living. Set in Wales, it is accessible by train and bus and contains a large range of renewable energy sources and facilities for training and for visitors. It offers courses and outreach work in schools and colleges.
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is based at Machynlleth in Wales, on the Birmingham -Aberystweth railway line. It is accessible by bus and car. It specialises in green living and is working to towards a society in which energy and food are produced sustainably, rather than through ways that exhaust the world's resources.
CAT opened in 1973 when Gerald Morgan-Grenville, a businessman turned environmentalist established it on a seven acre site in a disused slate quarry. Since then, CAT has developed and now has a permanent exhibition on sustainable lifestyles. Originally, it specialised in energy issues, but has now expanded its remit to all aspects of sustainble living. Visitors are always welcome at CAT, where they can visit the exhibition, dine in the vegetarian restaurant and purchase items in the CAT shop. Energy CAT possesses the largest range of sustainable energy sources anywhere in the world. These include photovoltaic energy (electricity produced by solar panels), biomass energy using fuel produced on the site, solar thermal energy, hydro-electric power and wind turbines. These aim to show that alternative energy can work for humanity.
CAT offers short courses in a range of sustainability issues. They include courses on organic growing, alternative homes, such as straw bales, rammed earth and cob construction, alternative modes of energy generation, such as how to construct your own wind turbine and the construction of hydraulic rams. Courses can be a day or week long. Some are aimed at the general public, but others are meant for professional engineers, for example those involved in the installation of windmills. The centre is an accredited provider of postgraduate degrees in issues of environment and sustainability. The centre provides outreach work in schools and colleges, and provides an information service to people seeking advice om sustainable living. Information is also provided by the bookshop, which has a very large range of books on green issues. The centre runs a vegetarian café and a whole foods shop in the nearby town. In addition, there are demonstration sites. One of these is a low energy house, showing home owners how to be energy-efficient. There are also displays of organic gardening techniques. It possesses a funicular railway that is designed for low energy consumption. Reed beds show visitors how waste can be treated safely and sustainably.