Cornwall Council is helping community groups to cover the installation costs of renewable energy projects.
The revolving loan fund is administered by the Low Carbon Society and supported by the council’s Green Cornwall programme. Community groups can now apply for the second round of the loan fund to set up renewable energy projects in their areas.
Since renewable energy schemes pay for themselves over a relatively short period of time, they are expected to repay their loans and then use the money generated by the schemes to benefit their local communities.
On 27 January the government published the national Community Energy Strategy, which outlines the benefits and support structures in place for more communities to take ownership of local renewable energy projects.
Julian German, the portfolio holder for economy and culture at Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall has been leading the way for some time in its support for locally owned community energy projects, and the launch of the second round of this loan fund is testament to that.”
He added that, in the context of rising energy prices and the uncertainty around energy supply, retaining control of the energy future is increasingly important.
Four schemes have already had successful applications for the revolving loan fund: St Goran, Helford, Halvasso and St Enoder, which received conditional approval to borrow a total of £500,000. They will provide enough energy to power around 145 homes and have the potential to generate more than £3.75m over the next 20 years.
Paul Martin, of the Low Carbon Society, said the fund offered communities in Cornwall the chance access to loan finance that is not readily available in other parts of the country.
“We wait with interest to see what projects apply for our second round of funding as they will help strengthen Cornwall’s position at the forefront of national innovation in the environmental sector,” he added.
Neil Farrington, sustainable energy project manager at Community Energy Plus, thinks that the fund will put Cornish communities at the forefront of a clean, green energy revolution.
“Community Energy Plus were delighted to play a role in setting up such offers to refinance part of their loan, providing local ownership of renewable energy assets while releasing capital back into the revolving fund for other projects,” he said.
• The first paragraph of this article has been amended to reflect the fact that Cornwall Council is not offering loans itself. It is a creditor to the loan fund.