Many communities in Devon are developing their own renewable energy projects. Finance for purchasing the equipment (e.g. solar panels or a biomass boiler for a community building) is raised through a share offer which enables local people to own part of the installation. Revenue from selling the energy is used to maintain the equipment, provide a modest return to investors and establish a community fund that can be spent on other local priorities. The building occupier benefits from reduced-cost energy and the environment benefits from low carbon energy production.
Community-owned projects keep money in the Devon economy and reinvigorate communities by bringing people together with a common purpose. Schemes are already operating in Plymouth, South Brent, Exeter, Teign Valley, Tavistock and Totnes.
SEACS Project Toolkit
We supported community energy groups through the EU joint-funded SEACS project which ran from 2011 to 2014.Tools and case studies have been included in the SEACS Project Toolkit which includes information on:
- Raising awareness and starting the conversation
- Building capacity
- Partnership working
- Establishing a legal entity
Community Energy Support Service
DARE is providing the free Devon County Council Community Energy Support Service from November 2016 until March 2017. DARE is able to provide a wide range of support requested by established and emerging community energy organisations in Devon to help them achieve their community-owned renewable energy ambitions. This can include ‘hands on’ assistance in delivering communities’ projects, as well as providing advice and expertise. Contact DARE to access the Support Service.
Community Energy Accelerator
Support to community energy groups continues to be available from the RegenSW Community Energy Accelerator Project, which until April 2016 incorporated the Devon Community Energy Accelerator Fund, administered on behalf of Devon County Council by RegenSW. The fund provided over £62,000 of small start-up grants to community energy groups in Devon. A summary report of the Accelerator activity funded by Devon County Council is available here.
Online checklists to help community energy groups through their journey are available from RegenSW, many of which were developed through the Accelerator project.
The experience of some of the community energy groups engaged on the Accelerator has been captured in a video which highlights the opportunities available to community energy groups as well as the challenges that Devon County Council is helping local communities overcome.
Community Energy Legal Toolkit
We have prepared a Community Energy Legal Toolkit to help community energy groups understand good practice in developing community energy projects so that their community’s interests are properly protected. The toolkit presents four flowcharts, each of which describes the process for developing a different community energy project – wind, hydro, rooftop solar PV and ground mount solar PV – from convening an enthusiastic group through to commissioning the scheme.