The aim of the project is to develop a business case to supply community-owned renewable energy for a new housing development in Burneside, Cumbria for the benefit of the whole village.
The role of Electricity North West
Following the launch of our community energy strategy last year, we announced the Powering our Communities Fund to support projects that put community and local energy at the heart of communities. In particular, the fund is intended for projects that demonstrate how they can engage communities in energy issues; support vulnerable customers and/or reduce fuel poverty; or deliver new ways of working, fit for a smart, flexible low carbon grid.
The fund will provide some much needed resources into the development of community energy projects across the region and will help increase awareness and understanding of the benefits and possibilities that community energy can bring. A total of six successful projects received a share of £71,000, announced in March 2019.
What is community energy and how does this project fit the bill?
We see community energy as community-led projects or initiatives to reduce, manage, generate or purchase energy. Community energy projects focus on engagement and benefits to the local area and communities.
The Community-owned Energy Supply project will develop a business plan to supply locally generated renewable energy to a new development of 180 homes. The project will then look to extend the provision of this power source to existing homes in Burneside and encourage the local community to be energy efficient, helping to reduce fuel poverty and reduce the carbon footprint of the village.
Organisation behind the project
Burneside Community Energy (BCE) is an industrial and provident society acting for the benefit of the community which aims to increase community ownership of renewable energy and low carbon projects, and to distribute energy within the community.
BCE aims to help develop a low carbon energy system for Burneside as a whole, and to be an exemplar of how a village community can achieve this.
Background and detailed description of the project
Having installed community-owned solar projects totalling 680kW on the roofs of the local paper mill, James Cropper plc, BCE now aims to provide renewable energy for a new housing development in the heart of the Burneside community.
As well as providing an investment opportunity for local shareholders, BCE’s approach reduces CO2 emissions and generates funds to support other local projects. To date £7,500 from the first PV scheme has been allocated to a community benefit fund.
In the Local Plan, up to 180 new homes are set to be built in the centre of the village of Burneside. The plan is for BCE to supply electricity to the new development at or below market rates, using a combination of local generation and supply/demand balancing. In the longer term the aim is to offer the same opportunity to other residents such as the nearby Hall Park estate, which consists of predominantly social housing owned by South Lakes Housing.
The new housing development is being managed by Igloo Regeneration who are working in partnership with BCE to ensure that the new homes are as energy efficient as possible, and incorporate community-owned electricity generation. BCE’s project director Gill Fenna expects that the homes will be all electric, replacing traditional gas central heating in favour of electric heat pumps, and installing charging points for electric vehicles, fed by locally generated renewable electricity combined with energy storage.
Initially Gill expects the project to deliver a new business model for community energy and a new way of working for housing developments, where the developer can partner with a community energy organisation to provide energy infrastructure. The intention is then to share learning with other communities on how this works.
The project also offers an opportunity to develop a direct relationship between community energy and domestic customers, by helping them to manage their energy consumption.
It is hoped that that this approach will ultimately support vulnerable customers and reduce fuel poverty by offering cheaper electricity to other homes in the community, and provide energy support funding through the community benefit fund.
To deliver the project, BCE is working with a number of partners including:
- Quantum Strategy & Technology Ltd – an experienced business consultancy, who will manage the delivery of the project, bringing in additional expertise from other partners. Quantum has extensive experience of supporting community energy organisations from initial feasibility to establishment, project management, expansion and operating/developing innovation;
- Ellergreen Estate – the landowner and developer for the new housing;
- Igloo Regeneration – development partner specialising in working with investors, communities, local authorities and landowners to deliver transformational regeneration and development projects.
Where to go for further information
For more information on our community and local energy strategy visit our strategy page, or visit www.communityenergycumbria.co.uk/projects/burneside to find out more about the work of Community Energy Burneside.