Are you thinking about a community renewable energy project and not sure where to start?
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). The Energy Hub for the south-west is led by the West of England Combined Authority.
Clean renewable energy generation at 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.
RCEF offers support to eligible communities in two stages:
Stage 1 – Feasibility Grant
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 a maximum of £40,000 to cover consultancy and professional costs for the development of a feasibility report in a standard format for a specific project. These should be early stage activities without which the installations would not be able to go ahead.
Stage 2 – Full business development and planning grant
For projects that demonstrate a good chance of securing planning permission and being implemented, the Local Energy Hubs will consider further development funding of up to £100,000 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.
Applications for Grants are now open
Before applying for RCEF funding you must submit a pre-application questionnaire and review your proposal with one of our team. You can access the questionnaire via this link https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/1.-RCEF-Pre-Application-Questionnaire-FINAl-V0.1-Doc.docx and email it to SWenergyhub@westofengland-ca.gov.uk.
To find out if your organisation is eligible, and for general guidance on applying for RCEF funding please download the RCEF guidance note from this link https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/RCEF-Stage-1-Guidance-Notes.docx. For the purposes of the Fund we use the ‘Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) definition of a rural community as a settlement of fewer than 10,000 residents. Defra’s Magic Map will show you if the postcode of your project is based in a rural area https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Guide-to-MAGIC-for-rural-development-funding-boundaries.pdf.
If you wish to proceed with an application for a Feasibility Grant after speaking with the team, please consider the further guidance on stage 1 assessment criteria (https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2a-Guidance-on-Stage-1-Assessment-Criteria-FINAL-V0.1.pdf) and feasibility study structure (https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/4.-RCEF-Feasibility-Study-Structure-FINAL-V0.1.pdf), then complete a feasibility grant application form (https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/3.-RCEF-Stage-1-grant-application-FINAL-V0.1.docx).
Feasibility and Business Planning Grant funding can be applied for at any time, with grants reviewed and awarded on a quarterly basis. The deadlines for submitting applications are:
- 14 September 2020
Please email the South West Energy hub SWenergyhub@westofengland-ca.gov.uk to discuss your project in the first instance.