The Rural Community Energy Fund is being delivered by Tees Valley Combined Authority across the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber*.
Tees Valley Combined Authority has £1.35 million available to support community groups in rural areas across the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber region develop renewable energy projects.
The purpose of the Rural Community Energy Fund is to provide feasibility and project development grant funding to rural community groups that want to develop their own renewable energy projects. Applicants must be planning a renewable energy project which provides defined benefit(s) to the community where the renewable energy installation is based. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that a good level of community engagement has been carried out, and that there is genuine community support for the project, including plans for ongoing community engagement.
Examples of the types of technologies which may be considered for RCEF include:
- Anaerobic digestion (AD)
- AD (biogas) fuelled heat network
- Bio liquids/gas/fuels
- Biomass heat network
- Heat pumps
- Solar (photo voltaic)
- Solar (thermal)
- Wind turbines
Projects that focus solely on energy efficiency are not eligible for support under RCEF. However, energy efficiency may be considered eligible if it forms part of a project that is focussing on an eligible technology (or combination of technologies).
Community Energy England also keep a list of online sources of information on grant funding for community energy projects of all types. These include general advice on funding community energy projects as well as links to sources of grant funding, click here for more information
For more information about previous projects that have successfully applied for RCEF funding click here
Who is eligible to apply?
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is available to eligible organisations in rural communities in England that represent a rural community of fewer than 10,000 residents. For the purposes of the RCEF we use the ‘Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) definition of a rural community as a settlement of fewer than 10,000 residents, however in some cases populations of between 10,000 and 30,000 can also be considered as wider rural areas. Defra’s Magic Map will show you if your postcode is based in a rural area (the guidance documents contain further information on how to use the Magic Map to determine your eligibility).
Communities applying to the fund must be a legal entity in order to receive public funds – examples of suitable legal entities include:
- Community Interest Company (CIC)
- Community Benefit Society (Bencom)
- Registered Social Landlord
- Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
- Development Trust
- Registered society (pre 2014 IPS)
- Parish Council
- Faith Group
Local authorities are not eligible for RCEF however they can support or partner community groups who wish to apply.
What can be funded?
The grant is not for the purchase of capital equipment and cannot be used to cover costs incurred prior to the grant offer.
Stage 1 grants – up to a maximum of £40,000 can be granted for Stage 1. Stage 1 grants are intended to be used to secure the provision of professional services to undertake a feasibility study. Where appropriate, funds can also be used for project management costs, and community engagement activities.
Stage 2 grants – up to a maximum of £100,000 can be granted for Stage 2. Stage 2 grants can be used to support planning applications and develop a robust business case to attract further investment.
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.
Timescales for applying
Applications are taken on a quarterly basis and you will be notified as soon as possible once the funding decisions have been made. The dates of future bidding are as follows:
1st February 2021 – to be assessed on 8th March 2021
1st May 2021 – to be assessed on 7th June 2021
If you would like to apply for RCEF, or have any queries, please contact: email@example.com for more information.
A range of projects have already been approved through the Rural Energy Community Energy Fund, you can find details on these below:
A former coal mining village situated in County Durham, Tow Law Community Association identified a plot of council owned land that could site a solar PV array, the land also happens to sit on an underground void that may be suitable for a mine water heating scheme. Through RCEF Tow Law Community Association was awarded £30,100 in October 2019.
Thwing & Octon
Thwing & Octon is an off-gas community of around 200 residents in East Riding, Yorkshire. The Parish Council owns some land parcels that could potentially be used to site solar panels and wind turbines. The Parish Council recently undertook a community plan process and received strong support from the community to investigate these opportunities further. The study will also look at the potential for a heat network to support residents to transition off heating oil and realise the benefits of ongoing support for heat networks in the UK. Funding of £34,950 has been approved for this project.
Pennine Community Power
Pennine Community Power is an established Community Energy group looking into the feasibility of ground and roof mounted solar panels linked to battery storage and Electric Vehicle charging points in a number of villages in the Calderdale area. Pennine Community Power was awarded £40,000 RCEF support in December 2019.
Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre
Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre (HSLC) is a former coal industry social welfare centre, now owned and operated by a charity. The centre sits on top of former mine workings which are now flooded and HSLC want to determine the feasibility of utilising the heat form the water flowing through the mines to heat their open-air swimming pool. Through RCEF HSLC were awarded £40,000 in December 2019 to look at this and to explore the potential to provide heat to adjacent buildings and investigate options to increase onsite electricity generation.
Sustainable Regeneration of Helmsley Sports Club
Helmsley Sports Club has been successful in raising a significant amount of funding towards improving the facilities at its sports pavilion. The club is keen to harness sustainable solutions in order to deliver the best project for the community and the environment. The club secured £31,264 in RCEF grant to look at the feasibility of different sustainable technologies in its own and neighbouring buildings.
Durham Villages Community Power
This project was awarded £30,354 of RCEF funding for a feasibility study into a community PV installation at High Haswell, County Durham. The site is currently being investigated for a community wind turbine following a Stage 2 RCEF grant awarded to Sherburn Hill Parish Council, working in partnership with Durham Villages Community Power CIC. This is a separate application for a PV system that would either integrate with the wind turbine, should this option proceed, or as a free standing development if the turbine was not possible. Along with the PV system the feasibility of a linked battery storage system for the PV output will be assessed.
Amble Zero Carbon Harbour
Warkworth Harbour Commissioners have secured £23,652 to determine how they can decarbonise heat and power across the residential and commercial buildings they own and operate in Amble. The initial phase of the project will focus on the potential for roof mounted solar, onshore micro wind turbines, battery storage and heat pumps and then focus in on the most viable renewable technologies and sites.
Askrigg Community Energy
This project is a collaboration of seven local organisations. Supported by a local landowner, the group has secured £36,300 to investigate heating options around ground source heat pumps, focusing on buildings run by the partner organisations, and other suitable buildings in the village. Other technologies with potential for heat and electricity generation will also be considered, including potential development of EV infrastructure in the village.
Barningham Net Zero
Barningham village is off the gas grid, with most properties reliant on oil fired heating. This project has secured £38,400 to investigate moving to cleaner energy sources and generate surplus energy for export. It aims to complement existing biomass and solar installations with additional renewable generation sources extended to all buildings in the village. Utilising land owned by a supportive landlord, the study will evaluate the feasibility, cost effectiveness and funding approach for a community owned renewable energy generation and heating solution.
Big Green Build Renewable & Low Carbon Energy
Just the Job is a Social Enterprise and CIC which is in the process of developing a new build which will be an innovative, prominent, community building project to support its charitable activities. Working in partnership with neighbouring businesses it secured £35,000 of funding to investigate incorporating solar or heat networks into the development with surplus energy sold to partner organisations.
Hartlepower Solar Village
The Hartlepower Solar Village project successfully secured £32,000 in order to assess the feasibility of introducing Solar Photo Voltaic to the village of Greatham. Working closely with local land owners the Hospital of God and the Village School, the project will assess the viability of ground and roof mounted PV to supply energy to the village and investigate future trading methods such as peer to peer trading for surplus energy.
Leppington Energy CIC
Scrayingham Parish Council has secured £40,000 to develop a scheme that will provide all the villages heating and energy requirements from renewable sources in an economic and financial model that is beneficial to the community. A range of technologies will be considered in order to achieve a zero-carbon energy solution for the village and address network performance issues.
Malton Mixed Feedstock Anaerobic Digester
The project has secured £40,000 to deliver a feasibility report into the available feedstock for anaerobic digestion in Malton. It will assess the energy potential of the feedstock and how that potential could be realised for local benefit. The project builds on local plans for adopting the principles of the circular economy “Circular Malton” and will inform Malton CIC with industry and regulatory overview, feedstock assessment, technology assessment, financial projections, planning and permitting, optimum sites, operations and governance, together with gaining community understanding and engagement.
Newbald Energy Company
Newbald Parish Council has secured £30,000 to look at the feasibility of developing a local energy company to provide sufficient “green” generation capacity to sell surplus to grid, and sufficient storage to balance the supply/ demand and take advantage of the capacity market. The focus will be a potential wind turbine adjacent to an existing wind farm, augmented with local renewable energy generation from domestic roof mounted solar and centralised energy storage.
Ryedale Village Halls Solar Array & Battery Storage
The Ryedale Village Hall project, led by a consortium of village hall representatives and supported by the Ryedale District Council, aims to reduce the carbon footprint of up to twenty-nine village halls across the rural area of Ryedale in North Yorkshire. The study secured £39,840 of funding. It will also look at any other opportunities for renewables which might represent a good return on investment, such as heat pumps. It will look at benefits of bulk-buying and funding models that would support this collaborative approach.
Upper Don Community Biogas
Upper Don Renewable Energy Ltd successfully applied for £39,890 to investigate the possibility of a community-owned biogas digester, sourcing feedstock in the local area to produce biogas for heating and/or transport fuel and digestate fertiliser. Working closely with the local community, businesses, landowners and farmers, the study will look into how a biogas digester could help them and benefit the local community.
Energise Barnsley 2020
This project will provide Solar PV installations to five schools in rural Barnsley. The schools will pay no upfront cost and will benefit directly from renewable solar electricity at a significant discount to the market rate. The cost savings will be used by schools to fund teaching and learning aids, books, ICT equipment, essential special needs equipment, free breakfasts for pupils of deprived backgrounds, and further sustainability improvements to schools. The installations will also be accompanied by a display monitor inside the school building which will serve as a teaching aid for key topics including science, renewable energy, and the environment. The project will demonstrate concrete progress towards net-zero targets, while delivering measurable financial, social, and educational benefits to schools and their pupils. An award of £99,300 has been approved to enable the project to be investment ready with a robust business plan and financial model in place on completion of the RCEF grant funding.
Ferryhill Buildings Renewable Project
Ferryhill Town Council has secured £21,998 in RCEF grant to look at the feasibility of installing solar photovoltaics, solar thermal and/or heat pumps on 13 buildings across the Parish.
Both the community and sports groups who rent the buildings and the Town Council are eager to understand what steps can be taken to reduce Ferryhill’s carbon footprint and energy costs, and ultimately reduce their own environmental impact.
Humshaugh Net Zero CIC
The residents of Humshaugh, which is situated in rural West Northumberland, took part in a survey in May 2020 to establish the carbon footprint of the village. The survey enabled an evidence base to be established for the community to begin working towards achieving both Government and Northumberland Net Zero targets. In addition to defining the carbon footprint the survey identified local renewable energy generation as a favoured approach to reducing carbon emissions. RCEF funding of £37,000 has been awarded for a feasibility study to consider renewable energy technologies including solar photo voltaic, hydro and a low carbon heat network on suitable suites within the village of Humshaugh.
MFH Community Buildings Renewable Energy Project
The Monk Fryston and Hillam Community Association has partnered with the Yorkshire Energy Doctor Community Interest Company to deliver a project to decarbonise local community buildings. The buildings involved serve two villages and include the Community Centre, Primary School, Cricket Club, Football Club and the Church. RCEF funding of £32,060 has been awarded for a feasibility study to consider renewable energy technologies including the possibility of installing solar photovoltaics, a combination of ground or air source heat pumps and battery storage.
Prudhoe Community Buildings Renewable Energy
RCEF funding of £39,939 has been awarded to Prudhoe Community Partnership and Tyne Community Learning Trust who have joined together to commission a Feasibility Study to look at renewable energy technologies across Prudhoe and the surrounding areas. This will benefit eleven local schools and four community buildings in the rural area of Prudhoe, Northumberland.
The Partnership is looking to decarbonise the operations of the buildings, in particular their energy consumption, in order to facilitate financial, environmental and social benefits for the local communities. The study will consider the possibility of developing wind, solar and heat pump systems across fifteen sites.
Bishop Auckland Community Solar Project
Bishop Auckland Town Council secured £33,670 of funding to support investigation of potential reduction in their carbon footprint. The focus of the study will be of a number of publicly owned buildings in Bishop Auckland. The feasibility study will identify which of the public sector buildings provided by the Council are suitable for the installation of roof-mounted solar PV systems. Those under consideration will include schools, hospitals, leisure centres, community centres and other Council buildings. The project supports Bishop Auckland Town Council’s aim to be 60% carbon neutral by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
Net Zero for Nidderdale Area Methodists
The Nidd Valley Methodist Church has secured £35,675 of RCEF funding to investigate options to reduce the carbon footprint of twelve churches serving rural communities across Nidderdale and the surrounding area. The feasibility study will identify which churches are suitable for the installation of renewable electricity & heat energy solution which will represent a good return on the investment and steer these buildings towards their carbon neutrality goals, contributing to the Yorkshire North and East District of the Methodist Church aim of becoming net-zero carbon by 2040.
Plant Based Valley Community Solar
SCENE (Sustainable Community Enterprises North East) has successfully secured £35,000 of RCEF funding to explore the potential of a community owned solar array at Plant Based Valley (PBV). PBV is a 55-acre manufacturing and business site for plant based businesses. PBV are planning on developing a 500KW solar array alongside a renewable energy developer but are keen to develop a community led solar project along-side this that will benefit the wider community.
Low Carbon Heating for Historic Buildings (Ripley Churches)
The aim of this project is to explore ways of reducing the carbon footprint of five churches and a Church of England school clustered within the rural area of Harrogate Borough. The feasibility study will focus on solar PV, battery technology and heating pumps, the leading options given the building types and available land areas. £39,941 of RCEF funding was granted to support the project.
*Tees Valley Combined Authority manages the North East Yorkshire and Humber Local Energy Hub. The North East Yorkshire and Humber Local Energy Hub is one of five Local Energy Hubs across England. The purpose of the Local Energy Hubs is to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects.
The North East Yorkshire and Humber Local Energy Hub is a collaboration between the North East and Yorkshire and Humber Local Enterprise Partnerships, and includes Humber LEP, North East LEP, Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region, Tees Valley Combined Authority, and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP.
The Rural Community Energy Fund is being delivered by the Local Energy Hubs on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).