The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is a scheme to support rural communities across England wanting to set up renewable energy projects in their area. RCEF is being run by five regional local energy hubs.
In the North West of England, the fund is being delivered in partnership by Lancashire County Council, who are administering the programme, and the Local Energy North West Hub, who will oversee a process for funding approval.
Information about the national objectives of the scheme can be found here.
To register your interest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your details will be shared with Lancashire County Council. You can expect to receive an expression of interest form which will enable an initial discussion about your organisation's suitability for funding.
About the Fund
The purpose of the Rural Community Energy Fund is to provide feasibility and project development grant funding to rural community groups that want to develop their own renewable energy projects. Applicants must be planning a renewable energy project which provides defined benefits to the community where the renewable energy installation is based. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that a good level of community engagement has been carried out, and that there is genuine community support for the project, including plans for ongoing community engagement.
Examples of the types of technologies which may be considered for RCEF include:
Projects that focus solely on energy efficiency are not eligible for support under RCEF. However, energy efficiency may be considered eligible if it forms part of a project that is focussing on an eligible technology (or combination of technologies).
What can be funded?
The grant is not for the purchase of capital equipment and cannot be used to cover costs incurred prior to the grant offer.
Stage 1 grants – up to a maximum of £40,000 can be granted for Stage 1. Stage 1 grants are intended to be used to secure the provision of professional services to undertake a feasibility study. Where appropriate, funds can also be used for project management costs, and community engagement activities.
Stage 2 grants – up to a maximum of £100,000 can be granted for Stage 2. Stage 2 grants can be used to support planning applications and develop a robust business case to attract further investment.
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.
Who can apply?
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is available to eligible organisations in rural communities in England. For the purposes of the RCEF we use the ‘Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) definition of a rural community as a settlement of fewer than 10,000 residents. Defra’s Magic Map will show you if your postcode is based in a rural area (the guidance documents contain further information on how to use the Magic Map to determine your eligibility).
Communities applying to the fund must be a legal entity in order to receive public funds – examples of suitable legal entities include:
Local authorities are not eligible for RCEF however they can support or partner community groups who wish to apply.
How to apply
1. Email us at ruralcommunityenergyfundNW@lancashire.gov.uk to check that your postcode is located within an eligible rural area.
2. If your postcode is eligible, we must check that your project fits within our criteria of who can be funded and what can be funded.
3. We will invite eligible projects to complete an Expression of Interest form.
4. If approved we will then invite you to submit a full application.
The key milestones for the delivery of Round 2 of the Rural Community Energy Fund are:
Case studies and community energy links:
Community Energy England also keep a list of online sources of information on grant funding for community energy projects of all types. These include general advice on funding community energy projects as well as links to sources of grant funding, click here for more information