Communities can create their own power stations

The Urban Community Energy Fund was launched yesterday, giving community groups in England the opportunity to bid for grants of up to £20,000, or loans of up to £130,000.

The number of community owned renewable energy schemes in England is set to increase thanks to a £10 million fund unveiled today by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

Energy gOVERNMENTThe Urban Community Energy Fund will give community groups in England the opportunity to bid for grants of up to £20,000, or loans of up to £130,000 to help kick-start their projects.

Community groups can reap the benefits of renewable energy by creating “power hubs” in their area. Installing solar panels on local buildings or factories or building an anaerobic digestion plant to create energy from local waste can save whole communities money.

In East Sussex, beer is now being made using the sun’s rays after the south east’s first ever community energy scheme installed solar panels on Harvey’s Brewery. The brewery benefits from lower energy bills, while the community benefits from money back under the Feed in Tariff.

Announcing the funding on a visit to the brewery, Ed Davey said:

“I want to give more people the power to generate their own electricity and by supporting community energy projects we can – helping them drive down their energy bills at the same time.

“That’s why we’ve pledged £10 million, so communities can play their part in generating renewable power at a local level. This is all about investing in renewable energy sources, creating jobs and changing the way renewable energy is developed in the UK.”

The community energy sector will also see its first major shake-up since the launch of the Community Energy Strategy in January this year.

Community electricity projects will now get further support under the Feed in Tariff Scheme – which pays the owners of small-scale renewable generation for the electricity they produce – to get their community energy projects off the ground. Changes include:

  • for the first time, registered charities will be entitled to the same benefits as other community groups
  • two community projects (or one community project and one commercial project), each up to 5MW, will now be able to share a single grid connection and receive separate Feed in Tariffs
  • the FIT will now be guaranteed for an extra six months – giving communities more time to get their project up and running

 

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