Rural Community Energy Fund

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
  • Hydropower
  • 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

The Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust also have a range of useful resource.

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. 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)
  • Co-operative
  • 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:

1st November 2019 – to be assessed on 9th December 2019

1st February 2020 – to be assessed on 9th March 2020

1st May 2020 – to be assessed on 8th June 2020

1st August 2020 – to be assessed on 14th September 2020

1st November 2020 – to be assessed on 14th December 2020

1st February 2021 – to be assessed on 8th March 2021

If you would like to apply for RCEF, or have any queries, please contact: rcef@teesvalley-ca.gov.uk  for more information.

Approved projects

A range of projects have already been approved through the Rural Energy Community Energy Fund, you can find details on these below:

Tow Law

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. This led them to apply for RCEF, and the funding bid for £23,050 was approved in December 2019.

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.

Hovingham Community Energy Projec

Hovingham Community Energy Project is a group linked to the Hovingham and Scackleton Parish Council which focuses on a wide range of environmental projects. The group was keen to investigate opportunities to utilise solar power within the village and surrounding area. It secured £27,500 RCEF support in December 2019 to look at the feasibility of a range of potential projects, from a large ground mounted solar array to roof mounted solar panels.

*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).