£15m fund for rural energy projects opens to applications
Rural communities across England that aspire to generate their own clean green power are being offered a helping hand today with the launch of a £15 million Government fund.
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), which opens to applications today, 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.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:
“This investment will help kick start hundreds of clean green energy projects in rural areas across England. This new fund will give aspiring communities access to the cash they need to make this happen.
“Not only can local generation bring people together, boost local economies and drive forward green growth, it can help save money on energy bills too.
“We have already seen more than two hundred great community energy projects begin to blossom thanks to our Local Energy Assessment Fund, and I would encourage as many rural communities as possible to grasp this new opportunity with both hands.”
Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Richard Benyon said:
“We are determined to boost the rural economy and protect the environment. As well as boosting renewable energy production, the Fund will ensure that communities have the funding they need for local projects and priorities in future.”
This investment builds on the success of the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) launched in December 2011, which helped drive forward 236 community energy generation and management projects across England. Projects already up and running include Woolhope Woodheat Cooperative’s biomass energy scheme that provides community heating using locally sourced woodchip, and Reepham Green Team, which helped install external cladding and internal solid wall insulation in community buildings.
Interested communities, including those who got money under LEAF, can apply for the RCEF via the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the scheme administrators. Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with advice from WRAP, but there is no set deadline for submission of bids.