Image: Bristol City Council.

A new, EU-backed fund has been announced for community energy projects in the west of England.

The West of England Low Carbon Challenge Fund is offering £500,000 to microgeneration projects of up to 5MW. This will be split between renewable energy projects across Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire council areas.

Local groups, such as community energy companies, can apply for between £100,000 to £500,000 to cover 40% of eligible, capital costs.

The project is being funded as part of the £1.7 million Low Carbon Challenge Fund, which is being managed by the West of England Combined Authority and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “Local green energy generation has an important role to play in this and I urge community groups to come forward and take advantage of this funding.

“As well as helping the environment, community renewable energy generation can reduce fuel poverty and provide new jobs for the local community.”

Initial Feasibility grants of up to £40,000 are also available to projects in the region, through the Rural Community Energy Fund.

The west of England has made big steps forwards with renewable energy, in particular Bristol, which is aiming to be net zero by 2030.

Last year, Bristol City Council and local energy supplier Bristol Energy, launched a global search for organisations willing to invest in a joint venture entitled Bristol City Leap, which will help deliver a net zero energy system in the city.

The city has also sought to encourage community energy projects with the launch of a £50,000 community benefit fund by the Bristol Energy Cooperative.

The South West has already benefitted from EU energy funding, with Bristol City Council, in partnership with Devon and Plymouth councils, securing a €1.9 million (£1.7 million) grant in 2019 from the European Investment Bank and the European Commission, to support the development of a “new wave” of energy projects.

Further details about the West of England Low Carbon Challenge Fund can be found here.