Rural Community Energy Fund opens for business

The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) opens in July 2019 to support rural communities invest and benefit from new renewable energy schemes across England.

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
  • Increase the uptake of community and locally owned renewable energy, to support the Government’s targets for renewable energy and carbon reduction
  • Promote rural growth, job creation and volunteering opportunities – to enable communities to access the economic benefits associated with renewable energy schemes.

How to apply for funds

The RCEF scheme has two stages.

Stage 1 grants help communities unlock the investments by providing funds for a full feasibility report

If the feasibility report is positive, a Stage 2 application can be made for planning, legal and technical costs

Capital funds are not provided by the RCEF. Communities will need to generate interest in schemes, raise funds or take-on debt for the upfront installation costs before income is generated that pays back the investment.

To ensure your proposal is eligible, you will need to complete check a Pre-Application Questionnaire before making a full application. 

When completing the questionnaire, please read all guidance about the funds, making reference to Magic Map to ensure the locality qualifies as a rural place, and make a a very clear summary of the proposal.

The completed questionnaire must be submitted to the Regional Energy Hub, who will take decisions on funding.

If invited, you will need to make a Full Application for Stage 1 funds to the Hub, who will assess your application on criteria. The Hub has set out what a Stage 1 Feasibility Study report should feature in this checklist.

Discuss your Proposal

Your Local Energy Hub will be able to help develop your proposal and assist you with completing the application. Your dedicated Energy Hub Manager can help you think through your objectives, outcomes and risks which can be difficult to do. The Local Energy Hub Officer for Swindon and Wiltshire is John Lancaster  

Swindon and Wiltshire rural communities will need to apply to the South West Regional Energy Hubs in England who are acting on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).