£500,000 investment energises renewable energy community groups

Thirty local renewable energy projects stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria are celebrating being the first recipients of the government’s Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) this year, with over £500,000 assigned to help develop bespoke projects across England.

The first 30 projects receiving funding represent a spectrum of technologies, including community scale anaerobic digestion, solar power, hydro and wind as well as renewable and low carbon heat networks. All have sought government support to help raise funding to help realise their ambitions, enabling them to implement environmentally friendly sources of energy at a local level.

In Cumbria, RCEF is supporting a project which aims to provide heat directly to a local primary school from a community owned anaerobic digestion facility. This will also generate income from the sale of electricity to benefit other community projects, in a future community group partnership with four farms.

Thanks to RCEF, a community group in the South West of England is one step closer to realising its ambition of siting solar panels on commercial and community buildings in its market town, and investing the income into local energy related projects.

A joint initiative between Defra and DECC, the £15 million Rural Community Energy Fund was created to help community groups based in rural areas develop their own local renewable energy projects. Administered by resource efficiency experts WRAP, the fund provides up to £150,000 of funding to individual projects for feasibility and pre-planning development work to help them become investment ready.

Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson said:

This fund will strengthen the rural economy, safeguard the environment, and will allow communities to unlock the potential of renewable energy. Since launching we’ve seen a wide range of projects given the green light and I urge more people to apply and make the most of this opportunity to get their local project off the ground.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker said:

It’s great to see so many communities across the UK benefitting from local clean energy. I want to see more communities becoming producers of energy – powering schools, market towns and community centres sustainably – and boosting their economy at the same time.

It’s initiatives like this that are so important for achieving my vision for the Big 60,000 and I wish WRAP every continued success

Richard Swannell, Director WRAP said:

RCEF is helping communities to not only think about renewable energy, but achieve it and reap the benefits locally. I’m delighted by the interest we’ve received, and the ambitious nature of projects we’ve had in the first year. It’s helped give renewable energy a boost from the ground up.

More projects are currently going through the assessment process, and many more are expected to receive financial support over the six year lifetime of the fund. WRAP will manage the fund for the duration.

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