Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) has been awarded funding of over £25,000 to test the viability of the scheme, thanks to a grant from the South West Energy Hub.
The aim is to design and build a new community owned electric vehicle charging network in the area, opening up a new sustainable form of transport to residents. The charge points aim to be powered by solar photo-voltaic cells linked to battery storage, creating a cost-effective and environmentally friendly supply of energy for electric vehicle users.
As a community business BWCE will ensure that any resulting charging network will be community owned with surplus income recycled back into the community. If successful, the scheme could be extended to the other rural communities in West Wiltshire and Bath and North East Somerset where Bath and West Community operates.
Alex Lockton, Development Coordinator at BWCE, said:
“We were delighted to receive this grant funding which is a major boost for the project. We’ve already been in talks with local community groups and councillors and we know there is certainly the appetite for this kind of infrastructure within the area. Many people have told us they want to reduce their travel-related carbon emissions but in rural areas using public transport or cycling does not suit everyone’s lifestyles. By providing community owned charging facilities we hope to make low carbon travel more accessible.”
Paddy Bradley, CEO of Swindon and Wiltshire LEP said,
”The LEP is very pleased to see Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) receive this funding to develop a charging network. In our Local Industrial Strategy, we have set a priority to stimulate development of the fuelling infrastructure so that new energy vehicles are a viable option in both urban and rural areas. The work of BWCE will help progress this priority and in addition, support clean, economic growth in and around one of our most important market towns.”
In the feasibility phase, the team will assess the viability of potential sites for the charge points. They will also look into technical issues such as electricity prices, grid connection and planning; and hold further discussions with local communities.
Once operational, any surplus generated by the charging network would contribute to the BWCE community benefit fund (an independent charity), supporting a range of local fuel poverty and carbon reduction projects.
Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager at the South West Energy Hub said:
“This exciting project could bring real benefits to local people as well as reducing carbon emissions. It’s a great way of improving connectivity to rural areas and if it proves successful, I hope it will inspire other communities to follow suit.”
Funding for the first stage of the project has been provided by the Rural Community Energy Fund, a government scheme administered by the South West Energy Hub, working in partnership with Swindon & Wiltshire LEP. Grants of up to £40,000 are available for feasibility studies into sustainable energy projects in rural areas across the South West. Applications are currently being accepted for a new funding round with a deadline of 14 September.
Visit bit.ly/swrcef for more details.
About Bath and West Community Energy Fund
Bath & West Community Energy Fund (BWCE) develops community owned renewable energy projects, offering local people the opportunity to invest in local projects, earn a reasonable return and as members have a say in the running of the organisation. BWCE is a community enterprise, set up for the benefit of the community and to support local action to reduce the impact of climate change.
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