£1m fund created to power community-run energy

Power to Change’s Next Generation programme will put community businesses at the heart of energy system change

A £1m+ fund and expert support programme has been created by Power to Change to pioneer innovative community-led projects and business models. The Next Generation programme will offer up to ten c.£100,000 grants to community businesses to develop new decentralised, decarbonised, and democratised energy business models.

The programme will be delivered by an expert consortium of organisations with extensive experience in the fields of low carbon energy, community development and finance and social impact. The consortium includes the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Low Carbon Hub, Everoze Partners, Cooperatives UK, Community Shares Unit, Cooperative Futures, Social and Sustainable Capital, and SFW Communications.

Will Walker, Power to Change’s Community Energy Programme and Investment Manager said: “The way we generate, store and use energy is in the midst of a transformation as significant as the invention of the steam engine was to the industrial revolution. Governments across the globe have committed to significant reductions in carbon emissions that will require rapid and far-reaching changes to all aspects of society. Bold new ideas are needed, and this fund will not only encourage much-needed innovation, but will also put power into community hands. Ultimately we want to create resilient clean energy communities that can generate their own income, meet their local needs and are less reliant on fossil fuels and global energy markets.”

Rachel Coxcoon, Head of Local & Community Empowerment at the Centre for Sustainable Energy said: “The fund is designed to stimulate innovation in the community business sector and will be open to a wide range of proposals. Applicants will need to demonstrate that the funding could help deliver a viable, place-based energy business model, but we will not look to prioritise one aspect of the energy market over another – applications focusing on generation, energy efficiency, grid services, local markets, transport, housing or any other aspect of the energy system will be equally welcome.”

Power to Change has already committed over £45m to supporting community energy since 2015. In 2017, together with Big Society Capital, Power to Change launched Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE Partners). Advised by Environmental Finance, CORE Partners aims to purchase up to eight large operational solar farms across England and support community businesses to take over the running of them. Devon-based Yealm Community Energy, the first group to benefit from the programme, is currently planning to spend the first £20,000 earned through Newton Downs Solar Farm near Plymouth, on the local community in the coming months.

The Next Generation delivery consortium will provide capacity building, business planning, share offer development and community engagement support to Yealm Community Energy, and all future communities in the CORE asset investment programme.

In addition, Power to Change has already supported over 40 community businesses working on sustainable energy, including Bristol Energy Cooperative, Grimsby Community Energy and Repowering Brixton.

Expressions of interest for the first round of the Next Generation grant scheme will open on Monday, November 19, 2018 and close on Sunday, January 13, 2019. For further information visit: next-generation.org.uk

Interested parties in the Next Generation programme can join a free webinar about the programme from 5.30pm until 6.15pm on Tuesday, November 20.

For further information about the CORE investment programme visit: powertochange.org.uk/get-support/programmes/core-partners/

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact: Alex Valk 07384 812777 alexv@powertochange.org.uk   

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people. There are nearly 7,000 community businesses across England employing 35,500 people, with a combined income of £1.2bn.

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Follow this link to read some of our Community Business case studies.

powertochange.org.uk  @peoplesbiz

About the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE)

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is a Bristol-based independent national charity (298740) that seeks to change the way people think and act about energy. It does this by managing innovative energy projects, training and supporting others to act, undertaking research and policy analysis and giving energy advice. cse.org.uk

About Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE)

Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE) is a £40m social investment partnership created by Big Society Capital and Power to Change, targeting solar assets in England. Its principal objective is to turn these into community owned assets, whilst maximising the financial, environmental and social benefit for the local community.

About Environmental Finance

Environmental Finance is a leading environmental impact investment advisor. We form partnerships to create innovative, investable projects across the conservation, natural and built asset sectors. Using our collective skills, we develop solutions that tackle environmental and social challenges, whilst delivering fair financial returns for investors, local communities and the environment at large.