Grants / Projects we are funding

A new model of enterprise for affordable low carbon heat in rural communities: Community Energy Plus

Grant details


Awarded on:13/06/2017


Area of interest

Local economic resilience

Themes covered

Community energy

Heating the UK's homes and businesses contributes around a third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions but remains a significant gap in the UK's low carbon energy policy. In 2015 just 5.6% of the UK's heating came from renewable energy sources. This project explores options for locally owned, community level renewable heat supply.

What is the issue?

UK policy on low carbon energy has tended to focus attention on generating renewable electricity and the way we heat our homes has received relatively little attention. However, generating heat causes around a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with 79% of domestic emissions coming from space and hot water heating. At the same time, in 2015 just 5.6% of the UK’s heating came from renewable energy sources.

In this environment is there any opportunity for locally owned, community scale heat projects to develop? What would the benefits of renewable local heat supply bring to a community? What are the barriers that need to be overcome to see a shift to community based low carbon heating solutions?

What will the project try to achieve?

The Low Carbon Community Heat project will seek to unlock new models of enterprise for affordable, low carbon heat in rural communities. It will address this agenda by developing and testing business models using a variety of technologies appropriate to rural ‘off-gas’ communities. The project will seek to create solutions that ensure affordability and access for low income households.

Presently the main technologies used to generate low carbon heat have been proven at an individual building scale, but there has been less testing as part of a ‘district heating’ solution in rural settings. The goal of the project is to establish routes to alternative and affordable options, by testing the validity of the business models through the development of pilot projects using low carbon heat technologies in appropriate locations. The aim of the project is to move from proof-of-concept to recruitment and installation and then to replication and deployment at increasing scale.

Who might be interested in the project?

The transition to low carbon heat is an emerging market and so this project will be of interest to local authorities, community energy groups, social housing providers, community land trusts, house builders, business that identify as part of the low carbon and environmental goods and services sector, and anyone interested in growing the resilience of rural communities.