Community energy groups lead Coronavirus support efforts

9 April 2020

In the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown, a collection of community energy groups have mobilised £100,000 of Corona Crisis Funds to support vulnerable people in their local areas.

The groups, part of Communities for Renewables’ ‘collective of local energy schemes, all distributed the money from surpluses generated by community-owned solar arrays. Moreover, as community-owned enterprises, they were all able to mobilise funds ahead of government - and where it was most urgently needed - to support community-organised aid networks. Altogether, then, the Corona Crisis Funds demonstrate how local ownership of energy (and other infrastructure) can help communities be more resilient.

Jake Burnyeat, Director of Communities for Renewables, said ‘These rapidly deployed Corona Crisis Funds show the real value of communities having their own local energy enterprises: generating funds to deploy for the benefit of local communities as needs arise. In the first week of the lock down just 4 local energy enterprises have between them been able to mobilise £100,000 to help their communities respond to a crisis which has come out of the blue. Hopefully next year, they will return to their longer-term purpose of supporting their communities’ net zero transition and tackling fuel poverty, but at present there is no greater need and no better way for the surplus funds to help people in their locality. Other community energy enterprises are mobilising similar crisis funds and support. If every town had a community energy enterprise that story could be repeated across the UK – something to bear in mind as the we plan our new zero carbon energy future.’?

A summary of the groups that have already mobilised Corona Crisis Funds is below:

Selsey and Sidlesham’s Ferry Farm Community Solar has allocated £40,000 to support organisations helping those in the community facing hardship. After the first week of lockdown, £17,500 of this funding had already been awarded to vital local networks like Selsey Community Forum and Chichester Food Bank.

Gawcott and Buckingham’s Gawcott Solar CIC has allocated £14,000 to a Crisis Fund. Two donations have already been made to Buckingham Food Bank and Buckingham and Winslow Young Carers.

Keith Croxton, Team Leader at Buckingham Food Bank, said: ‘We are so grateful to Gawcott Community Solar for their amazing donation. This will ensure the elderly and vulnerable as well as others in crisis as a result of this epidemic can be provided with emergency food parcels when needed.’

Burnham and Weston Energy CIC have allocated £40,000 to a Corona Crisis fund and are liaising with local community networks and Somerset Community Foundation, who manage their community fund, to understand where they can be most useful.

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy are allocating some of their community funds to support local Food Banks