New community projects across England can now apply for feasibility grants of up to £40,000 for green initiatives, including solar battery storage, wind, hydro and geothermal heat projects.
Viable proposals will also be considered for further grants of up to £100,000 for business development and planning applications.
£10 million is available in total, from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), which is jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Through it, the government hopes to increase energy self-sufficiency in rural communities and boost jobs in green technology.
The RCEF has already supported 152 community renewable energy projects in rural areas helping generate around 105,000 kW of electricity as well as thousands of pounds for communities through to selling electricity back to the grid.
In Wiltshire, RCEF funding has helped not-for profit Salisbury Community Energy develop renewable energy projects at 8 sites across the city, including: exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof of the cloisters of Salisbury cathedral (pictured) and a feasibility study into a hydro project at the Mill in the Maltings.
Alison Craig, Development Manager at Salisbury Community Energy, said:
“Climate change is going to hit us all hard. The flood risk to Salisbury has, according to the most recent Environment Agency data, risen significantly. This makes the move towards making Salisbury zero carbon all the more important. These grants have enabled us to take the crucial first steps in creating green community assets for our historic city.”
The RCEF funding will be managed by five Local Energy Hubs around England, is designed to catapult rural areas into the ‘clean growth’ revolution, helping people living outside urban areas benefit from the income-generating potential of renewable energy.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore, said:
“It will take all corners of the country and sections of society to help us to tackle climate change on our path to becoming a net zero emissions economy and communities are at the heart of our mission for a greener planet.
“This £10 million fund can help sports clubs, churches and schools not only save money and reduce emissions by creating their own clean energy but also make money by selling it back to the grid.”
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