Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) funding available!

Hannah Downey

The Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) is open for applications, with a funding pot of up to £5 million available to enable locally owned renewable energy projects. 

Groups looking to get a share of the £5 million funding pot for locally owned renewable energy projects are encouraged to get in touch with their local Development Officer who will be able to guide them through the process.

As well as supporting organisations to develop their own energy ideas, this funding can be used to support the replication of projects which have worked well. One example is the CARES funded project at Comrie Croft, which combines solar power with energy storage and electric vehicle charging.

A new step by step guide is now available for organisations looking to replicate this project and benefit from cheaper, greener electricity as well as increased electric vehicle charging. Projects like this can currently receive a subsidy for the electricity generated through the UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff. This incentive closes to new applications in March 2019 and projects funded at the next CARES panel have the best chance of being up and running before the deadline – so, now is a good time to progress a solar project.

The scheme has helped over 200 renewable energy initiatives get up and running and since 2013 has made £35 million available to support councils, community groups, non-profit organisations and small and medium enterprises to deliver projects in their communities.

Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland manager, said:

“New, innovative and smart renewable project models are evolving – and the advice, support and funding from CARES continues to adapt and remain flexible to help projects achieve their ambitions. We look forward to supporting another diverse and exciting range of projects at the second funding panel, which will enable innovative solutions to local energy needs.”

What's available?

Three funding streams have been created to respond to the emergence of new innovative projects:

  • Enablement Grants of up to £25K to help with feasibility studies for energy systems or renewable energy projects, investigation of shared ownership or community benefit 
  • Development Loans of up to £150K to fund development costs, taking projects from feasibility through to procurement for a design and build contract
  • Innovation Grants of up to £150K to accelerate innovative activity, from building a business case to long term development support

What kind of projects have been funded so far?

The first CARES funding panel met on 28 June and awarded funding to a number of innovative energy projects. This included a hydrogen scheme in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, a community wind turbine in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, and a solar PV and battery storage project by social housing provider The Wheatley Group.

The second funding round encourages applications from projects which provide a solution to a rural energy challenge. Previously CARES has funded a number of projects like this, including a support structure for a solar PV system at Comrie Croft, Perthshire which has enabled increased provision of electric vehicle charging, and a community hydro scheme in Arrochar which will generate electricity and income to be used for local regeneration projects.

Local Energy Scotland has put together some themes and examples to help rural businesses access CARES funding, available here.

How do I apply?

The deadline to apply for funding from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme is 10th September 2018.

You'll find all the application documents and eligibility criteria here. The Local Energy Scotland team are on hand to help applicants through the process - find your local contact here.