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Wednesday 25 April 2018
25 April 2018 - NEWS UPDATE
Community Energy

Community projects supported by Cornwall Council’s green loan fund

Cornwall Council is the first local authority in the UK to set up a £1m revolving fund to support community energy schemes. Renewable energy projects set up with the aim of benefitting local communities have now been successful in applying for a loan to make their schemes a reality.


Photograph: The Transition Ladock and Grampound Road Scheme

Schemes in Gorran, Halvasso, Helford and St Enoder will borrow a total of around £500,000 from a revolving loan fun administered by The Low Carbon Society and supported by the Council's Green Cornwall programme.

By producing their own energy the groups can ensure their local communities, as well as others across Cornwall, will reap the rewards of the revenue generated.

Together, the four schemes will provide enough energy to power around 145 homes and the potential to generate more than £3.75m over the next 20 years.

Councillor Julian German, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Economy and Culture, said: "The money that comes from these schemes remains local, this represent a very different model from other renewable energy developments.

"In the longer term, it is hoped that more schemes like this will create a Cornish energy market where local supply can start to meet local demand.

"This is not as far away as people might think, and could start to really transform the problems that many people in Cornwall are facing with ever rising fuel bills.

"I am delighted that Cornwall Council is helping to make these loans possible, enabling our communities to help themselves."

As initial construction costs for renewable energy schemes are high, but pay for themselves over a short period of time, the revolving loan fund provides groups with access to capital funds.

In addition to repaying their loans, community groups will be able to spend money generated by their schemes in ways that benefit their local communities.

In partnership with Kabin and Community Energy Plus, the Council worked with The Low Carbon Society to develop a viable and sustainable fund - the first of its kind supported by a local authority in England and Wales.

Paul Martin, from The Low Carbon Society, said; "Cornwall has a history of exporting our skills, resources and the fruits of our labour whilst retaining little economic benefit.

"We have excellent natural resources and it seems fair that the people of Cornwall should share in the benefits that come from these resources.

"The total spent in the Duchy on energy is £1.4 billion each year and at least 98% of this spend leaves the Duchy. Given that Cornwall has some of the best natural resources in terms of wind, sun, hydro and heat energy it seems only fair that a greater proportion of the economic benefit from these resources is retained in Cornwall.

"We are glad to be making these loans after a rigorous loan review process and are grateful that the Council has made a credit facility available to us. These loans are a key element to enable communities to hold energy assets in common ownership, benefit local people and keep money in Cornwall."

Working under the umbrella of Community Power Cornwall, three schemes have been successful in applying to the revolving loan fund.

Community Power Cornwall was set up to develop and operate small to medium scale community energy installations and has made successful loan fund applications for:

St Goran parish – the funds will be used to replace a short term bridging loan on two 80kW wind turbines in Gorran and release revenue to support the development of existing and emerging community energy schemes across Cornwall.

Using their share of the income to help local projects, Transition St Goran has given funds to help improve insulation at Gorran Haven Memorial Hall, as well as replace floodlights at St Just Church in Gorran Haven.

Halvasso – funding has been awarded to build a 10kW wind turbine at BF Adventure's Goodygrane Activity Centre at Halvasso, near Longdowns.

The charity runs activity sessions and breaks for disadvantaged, disaffected and disabled young people across Cornwall and the turbine will help reduce the energy bills.

St Enoder – the development at St Enoder is a joint venture between CPC and the landowner to build a 100kW wind turbine at Glebe Farm.

Under the plans, a proportion of the revenue will be given to the charity Pentreath Industries.

A loan in principle has also been agreed with Helford Energy Society, an independent community energy cooperative established to benefit people around the Helford River area.

The group is aiming to build a micro wind turbine.

"It is exciting to know that a long-term loan for the Gorran turbines has been offered which will enable CPC to realise more ambitious plans for community energy across Cornwall in the near future," said Ella Westland, from Transition St Goran.

"As secretary to Transition St Goran's Low Carbon Fund Grants Panel, I am hugely grateful for all the incredible work of the energy co-op and the funds that it provides.

"The grants that we can give to small projects in our neighbourhood not only save carbon and help to develop community amenities: in addition, every time we distribute the grants, local people think about what carbon saving means in practice, understand that these community owned turbines are different and see how they increase local resilience.

"I feel privileged to have been involved in the project's early stages and greatly look forward to watching its development."

"We are really excited by what we will be able to do with our loan and very happy that our application has been approved," said Neil Farrington of Community Power Cornwall.

"Our turbine at Halvasso is only very small but it will enable our energy co-operative to supply electricity to BF Adventure at about a third of the retail rate.

This is a clear example of how community ownership can create significant and immediate benefits for local people. CPC exists to create social, environmental and economic benefits; each Kilowatt of generation capacity that we bring into community ownership furthers that mission."

The Low Carbon Society and Cornwall Council aim to run a second round inviting applications to the loan fund at the end of the year.

The Fund strengthens Cornwall's position as a leader in renewable energy on a number of counts:

* First in the country to finance the construction of community energy schemes.

* First fund of its kind to be supported and directly financed through a local authority in England and Wales.

* First revolving loan fund to retain multiple benefits locally:

* Local ownership of renewable energy assets (providing direct financial returns)

* Share of profits from projects allocated to Community benefit fund

* Interest on loans paid back into the revolving loan fund and Cornwall Council to support more projects and services in Cornwall.

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