Urban Community Energy Fund to finance solar, hydro and wind power

A snapshot of the approved community energy projects

4 June 2015

Update, July 2016: UCEF has now closed, details here.

A hydro project in Reading and a series of solar installations in Liverpool are just two of the 24 community energy projects that have made successful grant applications to the Decc-funded, CSE-administered Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF) since its launch at the end of last year. This represents two thirds of the applications processed - an encouragingly high success rate.

Here at CSE we’ve been assessing the practical feasibility of the applications, before passing them on to our partners Pure Leapfrog for financial evaluation.

James Watt, who leads the assessment team, said:“It’s encouraging to see that we’re not just getting applications from well-established community energy groups and that there are groups applying from places that haven’t seen much community energy activity in the past.

“We’re keen to help groups as much as possible in advance of each application deadline, and for those groups who are taking up our offer of support, it’s really showing through in the quality of their applications.”

Below is a snapshot of our successes so far:

Reading Sustainability Centre is a community group working to develop a hydro scheme on the Caversham Weir, in Reading (picture, above). Their vision is to create a centre that will inform and encourage people to live a sustainable lifestyle, and which will be powered and partly funded by the hydro scheme. Any profit will be invested back into running the centre or donated to sustainability projects or local charities, especially those working in the areas of energy poverty and energy efficiency. They have secured £20,000 from UCEF to spend on establishing the technical feasibility of the scheme, consulting the community and local stakeholders, and arranging legal agreements.

HartlePower CIC is a new community interest company set up to investigate the potential sources of renewable energy in the Hartlepool area. They are working closely with the local community to identify and develop renewable energy projects to pursue. The income generated from these projects will be reinvested into further projects within the community. They have received over £6,000 from UCEF to carry out general scoping of the renewable technology opportunities in the area and to engage the local community.

Liverpool Community Renewables are a community benefit society aiming to install 5 solar PV systems of at least 50kW on schools or community buildings across Liverpool. They have received over £13,000 from UCEF to identify and engage with the local community and stakeholders, seek planning and legal advice, and carry out structural surveys of the selected roofs. The solar panels would benefit the schools and community buildings involved, by reducing their fuel bills and promoting environmental awareness. Income from the project would be directed into a fund to support the wider community, with a focus on raising awareness about carbon reduction, climate change and reducing fuel poverty in Liverpool.

The other funding recipients are:

Plymouth Energy Community | Southmead Development Trust, Bristol | Good Neighbour Community Energy, Liverpool | Bury Hydro | The Broughton Trust, Salford | Livewire CIC, Warrington | South East London Community Energy | Cressingham Gardens Community, London | Solesco, West Sussex | The Chamberlain and Demontfort Trust, Birmingham | Exeter Community Energy | Lymm Community Energy, Cheshire

It’s positive to see a continued supply of enthusiastic proposals from community groups. Ten more applications were submitted at the end of May and are currently undergoing review. The next deadline for applications is Friday 31 July. Please get in touch if you’re thinking of applying: info@ucef.org.uk | 0800 038 6345

Image: Flickr, Cycling man, reproduced under a creative commons license.

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