Rural Community Energy Fund is launched

Guidance for communities

24 June 2013

The Rural Community Energy Fund for England was launched on Friday 28 June. This £15 million Government fund will help rural communities with the costs of getting renewable energy projects up and running.

Having originally proposed the scheme to government, CSE has been closely involved in its development and design with Defra and DECC. We are confident that it offers a more sustainable and practical support mechanism for community-led energy projects than many previous government support schemes.

It’s also the first time a support scheme has focused specifically on supporting communities to establish larger renewable energy projects.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change say: "The Rural Community Energy Fund is specifically targeted at helping rural communities access the money needed to carry out feasibility studies into renewable energy projects, and fund the costs associated with applying for planning permission. It is intended that projects will then be able to attract private finance to pay for renewable energy kit and get projects up and running.

"Funding can be used to support rural projects across the renewable and low carbon energy spectrum including wind, solar, biomass, heat pumps, anaerobic digestion, gas Combined Heat and Power and hydro."

The fund is being managed by WRAP, and any administrative enquiries or requests for further detail should be directed to them. However, CSE has put a briefing sheet together which we hope answers some initial questions and encourages communities to think about whether the Rural Community Renewable Energy Fund could help them realise their ambitions.

Further help from CSE

Rachel Coxcoon is head of CSE's Local and Community Enpowerment team. "CSE can offer some support services under either the grant or loan elements of this fund, and we are happy to talk to community groups to see if there is anything we can usefully offer a project.

"In particular, we are very good at providing candid advice and a 'voice of reason' to help ensure a project is built on solid foundations, and we could also be useful in helping to identify and bring together all the different support needed, such as planning and technical experts, business planning and financial expertise.

"Finally, we can help you appoint the appropriate specialists for different stages of your project, and give you advice and support with overall project planning."

Please visit our RCEF project page for the latest news on RCEF and CSE's support for groups who are considering applying.

Resources

We have produced a comprehensive pack of guidance for setting up community renewable energy projects - the PlanLoCaL resources were recently shortlisted for an EU award. Look at the resources and videos online or request hard copies of the pack.

The National Heat Map we produced for the government may also be of use, especially if you're planning a district heating scheme. (Watch a webinar on how to use it here.)

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