Community energy is about people taking control of their energy future by coming together to use local resources to manage, generate and save energy in their communities.
Community energy has huge potential to reduce our emissions and move the UK closer to its net zero targets. Community-owned renewable energy projects can help to decarbonise the UK’s energy system by generating clean, low carbon electricity that feeds into the grid.
There are other important benefits, such as reducing energy bills, connecting the community and boosting and re-investing in the local economy, and because the projects are owned by the community, these benefits are felt locally.
The Hub recognises that the community energy sector must play a vital role in delivering local strategic priorities but that it needs support to realise this potential. The Hub has assisted community energy groups through grant programmes including the Energy Projects Enabling Fund and the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) and is drawing on this experience to develop a package of support for the local sector. The Hub’s offer is also informed by learnings from an evaluation into RCEF conducted by Steer-ED (which can be read here: Evaluation of the RCEF Programme) and research undertaken by Community Energy South, drawing on the recommendations made in both reports to ensure that support is targeted where it is needed. Read the final reports from Community Energy South here:
The Hub has established a regional Steering Group, bringing together key stakeholders to drive the development of a self-supporting sector with strengthened capability and capacity. The Steering Group’s main objectives are to inform the package of support provided by the Hub, to broker connections and facilitate networking and knowledge sharing throughout the region, and to strengthen links between community energy groups and Local Authorities, seeking to understand how the two can work more closely to deliver local priorities.
The Hub is establishing a technical assistance framework; consultants on the framework will provide expertise across a range of areas on an as-needed basis. As part of its offer to the community energy sector across the North East and Yorkshire, the Hub is offering to majority fund specific technical support drawn from this framework. There is also an option for organisations to buy off the framework if their project is not prioritised for subsidised support.
During the first round of bidding, community energy groups and Local Authorities working with community energy groups were invited to bid for a consultant to complete an energy audit for a single building or site. Energy audits have been cited by community energy groups across the region as one of the pre-feasibility stages of development works that they require financial assistance in accessing. The Hub is looking to support community energy groups that are actively looking to address local energy needs and security with projects that deliver wider benefits for the community.
The application window has now closed. The Hub will publish more details on successful projects in due course.
A new Community Energy Fund (CEF) programme has been announced by the Government to begin in Autumn 2023.
The national £10m funding programme will enable community groups to develop projects from feasibility to commercialisation. More information can be found on the Government’s website.
The Hub will manage the North East and Yorkshire’s share of the fund. See the Community Energy Fund webpage for information on how to apply.