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). This guidance is specific to the North East Yorkshire and Humber Local Energy Hub.
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.
The Fund aims are to:
- Support rural communities – by helping them to maximise the income generating potential of renewable energy and put this to work locally;
- Make progress against the Government’s target to increase renewable energy generation, and promote community-owned renewable schemes; and
- Promote rural growth and job creation – to enable communities to access the economic benefits associated with renewable energy schemes.
The Fund will achieve its aims by removing the barriers to investment which are currently seen to be preventing the development of community scale Projects, such as the up-front costs associated with gaining planning permission, designing a scheme and providing evidence of technical feasibility.
It does this by providing funding to eligible community organisations to establish the feasibility of and develop the business plan for a renewable energy facility. Currently the cost of exploring feasibility and developing an investment ready business plan is high and finance for this is not readily available in the commercial market.
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.
The work undertaken at this stage could provide an initial report into the feasibility of developing a specific Project although some community groups will have looked at a range of options and may require funding to develop a business case to progress their project.
Stage 2 – Full Business Planning Grant
For Projects which demonstrate a good chance of securing planning permission and being implemented, the Local Energy Hubs will consider further development funding of up to a maximum of £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. If your Project is at a more advanced stage and you wish to apply directly for the development grant scheme, please contact your Local Energy hub via email firstname.lastname@example.org