Community energy groups receive £500,000 boost

Five community groups with ‘bright ideas’ will share £500,000 from Power to Change’s Next Generation Fund.

The schemes, which include community smart lighting, harvesting solar power to charge electric vehicles, and a dedicated energy-saving service for local schools, are the first five to be awarded grants thanks to a pioneering new fund dedicated to supporting community-led energy innovation.

Next Generation, funded by Power to Change, aims to identify and support genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community businesses focused on environmental innovation.

The five groups awarded funding are spread across England, and trialling business models that range from a school focused energy service company, to community-owned solar PV linked to electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

  • Chester Community Energy is trialling a model that finances the upfront costs of LED-lighting installations for small community buildings, enabling community groups to repay the investment through the savings on their electricity bills.
  • Lockleaze Energy Partnership (Bristol) is developing a community solar model that enables the local community to own and operate a 1 megawatt cluster of solar panels on 300 roofs in the city to create a new business model for post-subsidy rooftop solar schemes.
  • Nadder Community Energy (Wiltshire) is exploring a community electric car club in a rural community where there is a high reliance on cars for short journeys. Their electric car club could generate savings for householders as well as benefits for the environment.
  • Brighton Energy are exploring the opportunities for a transport scheme in the urban setting of Brighton where locally generated solar power could supply electric community transport and public EV chargers.
  • Green Fox Community Energy (Leicester) is partnering with a local academy trust to supply clean, locally generated heat, electricity and energy services through a range of low carbon technologies and by improving the schools energy efficiency through a model that they hope will eventually be scaled-out across Leicestershire and beyond.

Will Walker, Programme Manager in charge of energy at Power to Change said: ‘We believe more communities should be able to generate their own energy and reinvest the profits to benefit local people.

‘Not only are we supporting these bold ideas, but we will also ensure all the materials and resources emerging from this programme will be made public.

‘We want the whole community energy sector, industry and policy makers to demonstrate how and why community energy businesses should be central to the energy system transformation.’

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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