Communities can now create their own power stations thanks to a new £10m fund unveiled by Energy Secretary Ed Davey today.
The 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 projects such as installing solar panels on local buildings or building an anaerobic digestion plant to create energy from local waste.
Community electricity projects will now also get extra 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, Davey said, including prices for energy being guaranteed for an extra six months.
“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,” he said.
“That’s why we’ve pledged £10m, 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.”
Wind, solar, biomass, heat pumps, anaerobic digestion, combined heat and power and hydro projects planned in any urban area across England will be eligible for financial support from the Urban Community Energy Fund.
Under the changes to the Feed-in Tariff scheme registered charities will now be entitled to the same benefits as other community groups and two community projects – or one community project and one commercial project – each of up to 5MW. They will now be able to share a single grid connection and receive separate Feed-in Tariffs.
Welcoming the changes to the Feed-in Tariffs scheme, Kathy Smyth, policy director of Community Energy England said: “Without risking the integrity of the wider Feed-in Tariff scheme, this will stimulate community involvement in larger renewable schemes.
“It will be a great boost to projects using the split ownership model under the voluntary protocol for Shared Community Ownership, which Ed Davey launched earlier this month.”
Today’s announcements follow the publication of the Shared Ownership Taskforce report on 3 November, which set out a framework for how developers and local communities can work together to boost the number of onshore renewables projects in their area.