Rural Community Energy Fund open for applications
Clean renewable energy generation at the community level is beneficial both to the community and the wider environment. By reducing dependence on fossil fuel-based energy generation, communities can secure future energy supply. Gain protection from rising fuel costs and duties and reduce the risk of fuel poverty. Income from renewable Projects can be used to provide benefits to the community, create jobs, and promote social cohesion.
The Fund aims are to:
- Support rural communities – by helping them to maximise the income-generating potential of renewable energy and put this to work locally;
- Make progress against the Government’s target to increase renewable energy generation, and promote community-owned renewable schemes; and
- Promote rural growth and job creation – to enable communities to access the economic benefits associated with renewable energy schemes.
The Fund will achieve its aims by removing the barriers to investment which are currently seen to be preventing the development of community-scale Projects. Such as the up-front costs associated with gaining planning permission, designing a scheme and providing evidence of technical feasibility.
It does this by providing funding to eligible community organisations. To establish the feasibility of and develop the business plan for a renewable energy facility. Currently, the cost of exploring the feasibility and developing an investment-ready business plan is high. The finance for this is not readily available in the commercial market.
Who is eligible?
RCEF offers support to eligible communities in two stages:
For those communities at an early stage of exploring the possibility of a renewable energy project, and which meet the Fund’s eligibility criteria. This stage offers grants of up to £20,000. To cover consultancy and professional costs for the development of a feasibility report in a standard format. The work undertaken at this stage should provide an initial report on the feasibility of developing a specific project.
For projects which demonstrate a good chance of securing planning permission and being implemented. WRAP will consider further funding with an unsecured loan of up to £130,000. To be made available to cover more detailed investigation into the key areas of technology selection. This includes securing a site (legal fees for example), environmental impact assessments, submitting planning applications, permitting applications and developing a full investment business plan.
For projects which achieve planning permission and attract capital investment, the loan will be repayable, with a premium, once the finance has been secured. If the project cannot, for genuine reasons, be taken forward then loans may be written off.
How do I apply?
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is being delivered by the five Local Energy Hubs in England on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This guidance is specific to the North East Yorkshire and Humber Local Energy Hub.
Is there a deadline?
The Rural Community Energy Fund is open on a rolling quarterly basis:
19th August 2019 – to be assessed on 9th September 2019
1st November 2019 – to be assessed on 9th December 2019
1st February 2020 – to be assessed on 9th March 2020
1st May 2020 – to be assessed on 8th June 2020
1st August 2020 – to be assessed on 14th September 2020
1st November 2020 – to be assessed on 14th December 2020
1st February 2021 – to be assessed on 8th March 2021
Who do I need to contact for more information?
If your project fits the eligibility criteria and you wish to discuss your project further please contact: RCEF@teesvalley-ca.gov.uk (For Yorkshire and Humber and the North East areas) and visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rural-community-energy-fund