The Government has just launched the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) which aims to support rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community.
The scheme is managed by WRAP and offers support in two stages. Stage 1 will provide a grant of up to approximately £20,000 to pay for an initial feasibility report. Stage 2 will provide an unsecured loan of up to approximately £130,000 to pay for detailed business planning and planning applications. In total there is £15 million of funding available and there is no set deadline.
The funding is available to rural communities in England that represent a rural community of fewer than 10,000 residents and are planning a renewable energy project which will provide a legacy for the future benefit of the community. The application has to come from the community group which needs to a legal entity in order to receive public funds. Such legal entities include:
- Community interest companies (CIC)
- Industrial provident society (IPS) such as co-operatives
- Parish councils
- Registered social landlords
The application needs to demonstrate the support of the wider community and use a proven renewable technology. Application forms and guidance are can be downloaded from the WRAP website. WRAP has project managers available to discuss your application and answer any questions you may have. Please contact a member of the Rural Communities Energy Team on 0808 100 2040 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crops for Energy Ltd can help your community group access this funding and provide feasibility study support. Our specialism is in the biomass sector so we would welcome the opportunity to work with groups that are looking to source woodfuel from local woodlands or energy crops (e.g. miscanthus or short rotation coppice willow) from local farmers and use this in biomass boilers or combined heat and power units.
The Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has led to an increase in the number of biomass boiler installations. As a consequence demand for woodfuel has also increased and prices are going up. Using woodfuel from local undermanaged woodlands or engaging with a farmer to supply woodfuel could help insulate a project against future price rises and transport costs. As such the financial benefit from the RHI will be maximised. Our report “Why we need Energy Crops in the South West” flags up the need for local supply of woody biomass. Our woodland resource in the UK is not infinite and we could run out in as little as 10 years. Rural communities typically have to rely on imported fossil fuels (particularly oil and LPG). Using locally sourced biomass would reverse this trend, keep more money in the local economy and stimulate job creation – a win, win, win!
We have done feasibility studies for a wide client base including: Bristol City Council, East Midlands Airport, South Somerset District Council, Bristol Airport and the National Trust to name but a few. As such we have the demonstrable track record of experience required for the scheme. We hold professional indemnity insurance of over £1m. Finally, we are completely independent. Our aim is to help our clients make the best decision for their project and match the chosen fuel and technology to their circumstances.
If you would like to talk over your project and get a quote then please call us on 0844 249 2901 or contact us.