By Pure Leapfrog

Today sees the launch of the much anticipated £10 million DECC’s Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF).

UCEF will give community groups in England the opportunity to bid for grants of up to £20,000, or loans of up to £130,000 to help kick-start their projects. Successful projects will pay back their loans, thus allowing the fund to be replenished. The fund is being administered by a partnership between the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Pure Leapfrog. Our partners CSE are experts in helping people and organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors meet the twin challenges of rising energy costs and climate change.

The fund was launched at Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes, West Sussex. This is the home of a project completed by the award winning community energy group OVESCo, a project and group Pure Leapfrog has been proud to support. Some images from the day are available to view online.

At the launch, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said “I want to give more people the power to generate their own electricity and by supporting community energy projects we can - helping them drive down their energy bills at the same time. That’s why we’ve pledged £10 million, so communities can play their part in generating renewable power at a local level. This is all about investing in renewable energy sources, creating jobs and changing the way renewable energy is developed in the UK.”

Our Chief Executive, Robert Rabinowitz, said “UCEF comes at a great time for the community energy sector, helping to plug a much needed gap in the project development phase. This fund is going to catalyse the development of projects across the UK, helping groups to deliver projects in some of the most hard to reach areas.”

“This is a great step forward” said CSE’s Chief Executive, Simon Roberts. “UCEF provides the opportunity for community groups to break through the financial barriers to developing renewable energy projects at a meaningful scale. There are still plenty of challenges for community groups to overcome, but this fund enables them to access and pay for the professional expertise they need to succeed.”

UCEF is a counterpart to the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) launched in summer 2013. Between the two, a project anywhere in England could be eligible for finance. Large grants and loans will be available to encourage projects of scale and ambition. Grants will support projects through the more speculative, early stages of development. Subsequent loans are available for development to the stage where a project is ‘investment ready’.

Initial eligibility checks can be carried out on the UCEF website. For projects that appear to be eligible, it is recommended all groups contact UCEF directly, to discuss their proposals and for help producing the strongest application possible.