Bristol groups receive funding for community energy

First two projects receive Catalyst Fund support

5 April 2011

Two new Bristol-based groups have just been awarded funding for community energy projects in the city as part of the recently launched Bristol Community Energy Catalyst Fund.

This is a £50,000 from fund Bristol City Council which is administered (and was partly designed) by CSE. It was set up to help groups turn their ideas into successful community enterprises by providing investment funding to help them overcome key hurdles, and opened for applications in February.

The first beneficiary of the fund is the newly formed Bristol Energy Co-operative, a community-owned initiative to build a resilient, local and low-carbon energy infrastructure for Bristol. The group will use the funding to pay for the legal and business planning that will underpin their social enterprise which aims to install solar panels on community buildings across Bristol.

The second beneficiary is a group in the inner-Bristol neighbourhood of in St Werburghs, already characterised by high levels of community activity and a 30-unit self-build project. The group has been awarded funding for an 'options assessment' to look at how they can take forward their plans for energy efficiency and renewable energy in St Werburghs.

Councillor Neil Harrison, assistant executive member for sustainability, said: "The Council has a strong strategy for renewable energy production and energy efficiency, but no organisation has all the answers. We want to see a diverse and flexible approach to energy in the city and this includes seeding new grass-roots community-led organisations.

"The projects that the Energy Catalyst Fund is supporting at this stage provide different approaches built around the community co-operative idea that has been so powerful in addressing social and environmental problems the world over, with people coming together to share expertise, enthusiasm and their time."

CSE's Chief Executive, Simon Roberts, added “This is a great start for the Fund, investing in community groups to provide the catalyst that will help them turn their sustainable energy ideas into viable enterprises. This first round of investment proves that Bristol is a hotbed of practical community-based sustainable energy action.

“We’re also very pleased that there will be a further round of investment by the Catalyst Fund later this year to encourage more projects to work up their ideas and seek help.”

The investment decisions were made on behalf of the Fund by a panel chaired by Simon Roberts of the Centre for Sustainable Energy with Cllr Harrison, Alex Minshull from Bristol City Council, and James Vaccaro, Managing Director of Investment Banking at Bristol-based ethical financiers, Triodos Bank.

To find out more about the Catalyst Fund and future application rounds, keep your eye on this page or contact Bridget Newbery at CSE on 0117 9341413 or email communities@cse.org.uk.

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