The previous sections should provide a flavour of some of the funding and finance options available to community energy projects. The challenge of securing finance has been a consistent theme for many such community projects in England and Wales. Many successful projects have been lucky enough to gain support from previous capital investment grant schemes specifically aimed at community projects although these appear to be increasingly less common.
It is essential for community projects to think creatively if they want to realise their energy goals. This can mean original ideas for direct fundraising such as ‘selling bricks’ in a community building to fund an upgrade or innovative financial deals and arrangements with any potential partners or funders. Examples include split ownership with a local landowner or persuading a wind-farm developer to include an extra turbine that the community can purchase over time (see Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprises). Bath and West Community Energy have recently secured an innovative finance deal with SSE.
The Green Exchange is an online platform which matches borrowers and lenders to finance low carbon projects and may be appropriate for your project.
As with all activities, community groups can achieve a lot by identifying what existing knowledge, connections and networks exist amongst their members, supporters and friends.