As the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Rural Energy Officer, my role involves helping to develop and support delivery of renewable energy projects in a range of rural locations, from agricultural and business settings to domestic and community venues.
Whether we’re looking at energy generation, storage or efficiency, the theme which cuts across all my work is rural locations – the coastal landscapes, market towns and villages which we have so many of here in the North East. And one of my key goals is helping to make sure that rural communities in the North East benefit from the opportunities that arise as the UK’s power, heating and transport sectors decarbonise.
To support these rural communities, the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) can help people to develop community-led renewable energy projects, providing grants of up to £40,000 for feasibility studies and £140,000 for full commercialisation. In my role I’m responsible for helping rural communities across the North East LEP and Tees Valley Combined Authority areas access RCEF funding for their projects.
Any rural community organisation can apply – for example, a parish council, a sports club or a housing association –the successful applicants receive grant funding to help move their idea towards becoming a reality, with the grant being used to pay for a professional consultancy to determine whether your project idea is feasible and how you can take your project forward.
Projects using technologies such as hydropower, solar energy, wind energy or heat pumps could all be eligible for support through the RCEF. So, if your rural community has a project in mind which could lead to the renewable generation of heat or power, or even just an idea which you’d like to discuss, I’d encourage you to get in touch.
The UK has committed to reaching a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and the coming months and years will see more and more communities, both urban and rural, investing in renewable energy for homes and businesses.
As well as the obvious environmental benefits, the green economy also has the potential to bring new technologies, more jobs and investment to our communities and it’s vital that rural areas reap the benefits.
Josh Sawyer, Rural Energy Officer.
If you’d like to find out more about the Rural Community Energy Fund, get in touch with Josh Sawyer, Rural Energy Officer at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) on [email protected] or 07584 154510.
This project is funded through the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). RCEF is being delivered by the North East Yorkshire and Humber (NEYH) Local Energy Hub on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Tees Valley Combined Authority manages the NEYH Local Energy Hub.