The funds will provide £100,000-300,000 to 22 projects to establish community-scale wind, biomass and hydropower schemes. The renewable electricity generated by the projects will be used by the community or sold to the National Grid to provide an income source for those communities.
Another 135 grants of £3,000 will help communities to launch feasibility studies of possible renewable energy projects. Follow-up grants of £20,000 will be open to 35 schemes for their second stage of development.
The investment will focus on addressing the skills needed in the labour market to sustain a low carbon economy and the employment opportunities resulting from installing, maintaining and managing renewable energy technology.
“It is an integral part of our agenda to cut carbon emissions and invest in the development of locally-based renewable energy solutions,” says Environment Minister Jane Davidson. “The Community Scale Renewable Energy Generation project will help realise this ambition, driving forward the way in which social enterprises can harness the opportunities presented by generating their own electricity using technologies that produce lower carbon emissions.”
Where the funding comes from
The Community Scale Renewable Energy Generation initiative, announced last week by the Welsh Assembly Government, will be supported with £7m from the European Regional Development Fund which will generate an investment of £15m.
The scheme will be managed by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of Welsh authorities, with development officers identifying potential schemes and providing advice to community groups. The funding is expected to create 22 jobs.
“This will benefit these organisations through reduced fuel costs as well as provide the opportunity to secure a sustainable income which can be used to employ staff, provide energy efficiency and fuel poverty advice, as well as other vital services, to their communities,” adds Davidson. She made the announcement during a visit to the Cwmclydach Development Trust in Rhondda Cynon Taf, where a small-hydro project is being developed.
“The Community Scale Renewable Energy Generation project in Wales will provide a great deal of support to community groups,” adds Helen Northmore of the Energy Saving Trust Wales. “The programme will allow community groups to generate renewable electricity in their area, helping communities reduce their emissions and tackle climate change.”
“The support on hand from the development officers and the grant funding available will be invaluable to the community groups, and it will provide the support network they need from the initial outset to fully establishing themselves as a social enterprise to installing the technology,” she adds. “No other programme in Wales offers this level of support and the benefits to communities across Wales will be invaluable.”