Wadebridge community awarded £40,000 grant for innovative green energy scheme

Wadebridge could become one of the first places in the UK to establish a community-owned peer-to-peer trading platform for renewable energy, thanks to a new project being developed by Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) and supported by the South West Energy Hub.

The Energy Equality Foundations project has been awarded feasibility funding of £40,000 by the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), a government scheme administered by the energy hub.

Alongside developing plans for a new trading platform, WREN will use the grant for a study into the viability of potential solar farm sites. They will also assess the feasibility of a number of new rooftop solar schemes on local community buildings and business premises. Surplus energy generated from this new infrastructure, as well as from existing renewable sources, will be sold directly to local consumers with reduced prices for vulnerable members of the community.

WREN also plans to offer 50% ownership of any new solar assets to the community though a share scheme, ensuring that any profits stay within the local economy.

Christine Coonick, Technical Director of WREN, said: “WREN have always been looking at ways in which to support our community and others to benefit from locally owned renewable energy and to find ways in which to support people in fuel poverty.  The RCEF grant and support from the South West Energy Hub is helping us to investigate what is possible and the scale of benefit that this can be bring.  If we can understand how energy philanthropy can work in Wadebridge, then we hope it can lead to other communities following a similar route and joining up to create a bigger impact.”

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub said:”We were really pleased to receive this application from WREN and look forward to working with them as the project progresses. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved by the community working together and I really hope that it will inspire other groups in the South West to come forward with their own projects.”

The Rural Community Energy Fund is open to applications with a deadline of 15 June 2020 for the current funding round. Up to £40,000 is available for feasibility studies with further development funding of up to £100,000 on offer at a second stage. For more details visit bit.ly/swrcef

Notes to editors

The Rural Community Energy Fund is delivered by the South West Energy Hub on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). The energy hub is led by the West of England Combined Authority, working in partnership with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership

WREN is a Community Benefit Society with around 1,200 members. The group has previous experience with the delivery of innovative community energy projects through their involvement in the Sunshine Tariff project.

The attached image shows the WREN board of directors playing an energy trading game (taken before social distancing measures were imposed).