Support for Community Renewable Energy Projects

We can support community groups with the development of community renewable energy projects, as part of Zero Carbon Cumbria, funded by the National Lottery. This support can help to initiate a totally new idea, or progress an existing project.

What is Community Renewable Energy?

When we talk about a ‘community renewable energy project’, we mean a project that is led or co-led by a community organisation of some kind, or owned wholly or in part by members of the community, or benefits a community by:

  • Supplying clean electricity to community members, or

  • Supporting a community benefit fund to fund local community projects, or

  • Supplying clean energy to a community facility.

Community Renewable Energy in Cumbria

Take a look at our Community Energy in Cumbria research report. This research has informed a programme of support that we can now offer.

The report covers renewable energy sources, and community energy models for power and heat, both direct consumption models and export models. It considers key issues and barriers, including the distance between installation point and consumer, funding, permissions, team capacity, site selection, and system size and grid connection.

Mini case studies highlight different community energy projects and illustrate the potential for more community energy across the county. These include Burneside Community Energy, which installed a 250kW solar PV system on factory roofs ; Community Energy Cumbria, which developed a 30kW hydro scheme at Killington reservoir and 30kW solar PV system on the roof of the HQ of the Lake District National Park, and Skelton Memorial Hall which installed a 60 panel, 19.5kW solar PV array on the hall roof, with battery storage capacity of approximately 35.8kWh.

Support Summary

  • Light-touch advice | Jul 2023 – Sep 2025

  • Specialist consultancy | Jul 2023 – Sept 23

  • Grant funding | Feb 2024 – Sep 2025


To be eligible for support, you need to be either a community group, including informal, unconstituted groups; or a town or parish council, a school, or a local business or other local organisation working in partnership with a community group that is developing a renewable energy project for the benefit of your local community. If you are unsure if you are eligible, please contact us and we will advise.

Support Available

Light-touch Support

  • Monday 26th June 2023 – Friday 29th September 2025

  • For any group looking to develop a community renewable energy project

  • CAfS can provide a free 30-minute advice call from a renewable energy specialist by telephone, Zoom or email. We will endeavour to answer your questions, highlight things to consider, outline the options available to you and signpost you to support (including the support outlined below), potential delivery routes and examples from elsewhere.

  • Email us or telephone our office at 01768 210276.

Specialist consultancy support for initial project development

  • Monday 26th June 2023 – Friday 29th September 2023 (or earlier depending on numbers of applications received. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all the support has been allocated, and therefore groups are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible).

  • For any group looking to develop a community renewable energy project. Funding available to support four to six of the groups that apply.

  • The specialist consultancy support could cover:

    • Initial technology assessment – this could either assess different technological options or test the technical feasibility of a particular proposal. It would include whether the technology was suitable for the site and if so, could provide indicative calculations of the potential energy generation, the installation cost and potential savings or income., It would also highlight any other significant factors such as the ability to connect to the electricity grid and the possible need for planning permission.
    • Engagement – this could cover discussing the potential project with the community so they have the opportunity to have their voice heard and be involved in the project, and/or discussions with the relevant land or site owner(s).
    • Delivery and financing models – this support would review different options for delivering and financing the project and make recommendations for those which are likely to be suitable.
    • Establishing a community energy group – depending upon the chosen delivery model, your group may need to formally establish itself with an appropriate legal structure. This support would outline options and help you to set up the appropriate structure.
    • Other – we are open to other requests for specialist support to help your group to progress your project proposal.

    The value of the individual consultancy packages would be between £1,000 and £2,500, depending upon what support is required. We have a pool of specialist consultants who we can draw upon to provide the support, and will commission them on your behalf. If your application is successful, we will work with you to refine a brief for the consultant.

  • Applications should be submitted using this application form and emailed to us. Any queries can be directed to the same email address.

  • Applications will be reviewed every three weeks and to be considered at each review meeting, will need to be received by close of play on:

    • Monday 10th July 2023
    • Monday 31st July 2023
    • Monday 21st August 2023
    • Monday 11th September 2023
    • Monday 2nd October 2023

    Successful applicants will be notified immediately following each review meeting, which will be held on the Wednesday of those weeks.

  • Evaluation criteria are as follows:

    • Does this project fit within our definition of a community renewable energy project?
    • Is the project likely to result in significant carbon emissions? As a guide, we would consider ‘significant’ to mean renewable energy generation of at least 20kWp or the equivalent of a 50-panel solar PV array or a scheme that supported at least 10 homes.
    • Is the project likely to have a significant influence in the wider community? As a guide, we would consider ‘significant’ to mean that at least 50 members of the community would benefit from the project and/or be inspired to take their own action to combat climate change.
    • Is the project replicable?  We will prioritise community renewable energy projects which are potentially replicable across Cumbria either in terms of the proposed technology and/or the proposed financing/ownership model.
    • Does the project have a good chance of being deliverable? As a guide we would consider ‘deliverable’ to mean having a committed project lead, reasonable initial support from the local community and/or land or site owner, and reasonably sound basis for the technical solution.
    • Does this project contribute to a diverse portfolio of project in terms of technology, community type and location and delivery model? This may be difficult to assess for the first few applications, but will be considered as further applications are received.
    • Can CAfS procure the specialist consultancy support required? If the support is beyond that which can be provided by our known specialists, we will endeavour to find appropriate support – but this may not be possible.
  • Delivery timescales: we will procure the specialist consultancy support on a rolling basis as and when successful applications are approved. The delivery period will run from August 2023 until February 2024.

Grant funding for further project development­

  • February 2024  – March 2024

  • For groups who have benefited from our specialist consultancy support or others who are at a similar stage of development. We will provide grant funding of up to £10,000 each to support two community groups to further develop their projects as exemplars

  • We have a particular interest in supporting deliverable and replicable projects which were identified in our research as follows:

    • At least one of the two exemplar projects should be based around electricity generation. The second could be either (i) a second electricity generation project but with either a different technology or a different delivery model (or both) or (ii) it could be heat related project.
    • At least one of the two exemplar projects should employ solar PV.
    • At least one of the two exemplar projects should focus on a replicable model for smaller community groups to take forward.
  • Application details to follow

  • Evaluation criteria to follow

  • Delivery period: May 2024 – September 2025

Cumbrian Community Renewable Energy Projects

Check out just some of the community energy projects across Cumbria.

  • Alston Moor Community Energy: AMCE ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise £22,300 to install a 27kW solar PV system on the roof of Samuel King’s School in Alston.

  • Baywind Energy Co-op: Baywind raised £2 million through share offers in 1997 to install six wind turbines (totalling 2.5MW) in southwest Cumbria. In 2016, 5 of the turbines were decommissioned and replaced by two new high-powered turbines. More recently, Baywind has installed roof-top solar on eight buildings in the Furness area.

  • Burneside Community Energy: BCE operates a 1MW solar PV scheme on roofs at James Cropper plc in Burneside.

  • Community Energy Cumbria: CEC operates two community energy schemes: a 30kW hydro scheme at Killington reservoir and a 30kW solar PV scheme on the roof of the Lake District National Park Authority’s offices in Kendal.

  • Energy4All: E4A is a community energy company based in Barrow. It was set up in 2002 and now supports a family of 33 independent renewable energy co-operatives spread throughout England and Scotland, with over 17,000 individual members.   projects.

  • High Winds Community Energy Society: High Winds owns and operates the two new turbines (totalling 4.6MW) that replaced the 5 original Baywind turbines at Harlock Hill near Ulverston. In 2017, High Winds became the first community energy company to take over a 100% commercial wind farm when it acquired the 6.9MW Mean Moor windfarm.

  • M&S Energy Society: M&S Energy Society aka Two Rivers Community Energy Society are based in Barrow and administered by E4A. The public can apply to invest in a fund from which M&S will install and maintain solar panels on up to nine M&S store roofs. M&S will buy the electricity generated by the panels from M&S Energy Society.

  • Rainepower Community Energy Society: RainePower owns and operates a 35kW hydro scheme on the river Lune near Sedbergh. RainePower is a member of the E4A family of co-operatives.

More info…

You’ll get more info from the following organisations:


This support is offered thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund.