Guidance

Urban Community Energy Fund

A financial support scheme aimed at urban communities across England wanting to set up renewable energy generation projects in their area.

The Urban Community Energy Fund is now closed. Existing applicants are not affected and all successful grant applications will be honoured. They will be supported in the usual way by Centre for Sustainable Energy, UCEF administrators. Email CSE on info@ucef.org.uk or call 0800 038 6345.

The Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF) is a £10m fund to kick-start renewable energy generation projects in urban communities across England. Community groups will be able to access grants and loans to support the development stages of a renewable energy project that will bring significant benefits to the local community.

Grants of up to £20,000 are available for the more speculative, early stages of your project’s development, such as initial public consultation and preliminary viability studies to determine suitable technologies, and to secure basic land rights. These grants will get groups to the stage where they know whether detailed project development is worthwhile.

UCEF can also provide contingent loans of up to £130,000 towards the detailed project development costs. This could include the costs of developing and submitting a full planning application, carrying out community consultation, securing all necessary permits and grid connections, arranging power purchase agreements and costing contracts for supply and installation. This will allow groups to develop a robust business case to attract further funding for the construction phase, which we call ‘investment readiness’.

The loans are called contingent loans because they are only repayable if your project is successful. You will then be able to pay back the loan from the income you generate from sales of energy. The loans are repayable with a one-off 45% premium, which will help us recycle the funds to other groups – this premium will be reviewed as the scheme progresses. You are under no obligation to take a UCEF loan if you have had a UCEF grant if you feel you can secure funding for the detailed development work elsewhere.

Full list of FAQ’s about UCEF.

Who is eligible to apply?

Groups must:

  • be developing a project in an urban area
  • be incorporated as a legal form that we can give money to
  • answer a series of other eligibility criteria

Check whether your project is eligible.

Any of the following groups are eligible to apply for the fund:

  • Registered Company (including CICs)
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation
  • Registered Societies (formerly known as IPS)
  • Parish and Town Councils

Local Authorities, businesses and Housing Associations can apply in partnership with the local community. For example, if a Local Authority or Housing Association wished to use its own land or buildings to host a community renewable energy project, we would expect to see an application from an incorporated body that creates a partnership between that organisation and the community – e.g. ‘Borchester Community Energy CIC’. Such an organisation would need to have clear representation from the local community and a defined, transparent process for managing the income and determining what it will be spent on.

Find out more about incorporation.

What technologies are eligible?

The technologies that will be considered under UCEF include the following:

  • wind turbines
  • hydropower
  • solar photo voltaic
  • solar thermal
  • ground, water and air source heat pumps
  • anaerobic digestion
  • biomass
  • low carbon/renewable heat networks
  • gas combined heat and power (CHP) units

Application deadlines

Deadlines are the last Friday of every other month – January, March, May, July, September and November.

We are happy to accept drafts of your application at any time before the deadlines and will review and comment on it so that you can make it as strong as possible. We strongly recommend discussing your plans with the UCEF team and using this application review process.

How can my group apply?

If you think you are eligible to apply you can download the application form:

. * Urban Community Energy Fund grant application form (RTF, 2.07MB)

We would encourage you to email the fund administrator info@ucef.org.uk or call 0800 038 6345 to seek further advice on your application.

Enquiries about the UCEF

Management of the Fund has been contracted out to the Centre for Sustainable Energy (in partnership with Pure Leapfrog):

Any questions about the fund should be addressed to the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Centre for Sustainable Energy

3 St Peter's Court
Bedminster Parade
Bristol
BS3 4AQ

Telephone: 0800 038 6345

E-mail: info@ucef.org.uk

Rural Community Energy Fund

UCEF is the counterpart to the Rural Community Energy Fund, which funds renewable energy projects in rural communities. UCEF can potentially fund all projects that are not considered to be in a rural area. To see which fund you are eligible to apply for, see Is my project urban or rural? (PDF, 457KB, 2 pages)

For further information on the Rural Community Energy Fund, see the WRAP website.

Community Energy Strategy

The fund was a key commitment in the government’s Community Energy Strategy, which was launched in January 2014. The strategy sets out how communities can help power the country and protect the planet while helping consumers save money on their energy bills.

Further information

The following organisations have useful information about renewable energy generation for community groups:

The following documents also contain useful information:

Published 13 November 2014
Last updated 5 July 2016 + show all updates
  1. The Urban Community Energy Fund is now closed. Existing applicants are not affected and all successful grant applications will be honoured. They will be supported in the usual way by Centre for Sustainable Energy, UCEF administrators. Email CSE on info@ucef.org.uk or call 0800 038 6345.
  2. First published.