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published: 15/7/2004
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Renewable energy grants top £5.5 million

The Clear Skies renewable energy grant scheme has offered a further £651,000 in grants to a range of schools, housing associations, local authorities and other not-for-profit community organisations, following the 5th round of applications.

This brings to more than £5.7 million the funding awarded through this DTI funded and BRE managed scheme, for projects involving solar thermal, wind turbine, hydro turbine, ground source heat pump and biomass technologies for generating renewable energy in buildings.

Thirty-one grants ranging from more than £60,000 to less than £2,000 have been offered in round five applications, for projects such as:

  • a solar thermal system for 32 existing and 31 new build housing association dwellings for Kirklees Metropolitan Council
  • a wind turbine for an education centre at Harlington Community School in London
  • a hydro scheme using an existing turbine house for Talybont-on-Usk Energy
  • a ground source heat pump for a new community building for the Pendeen Parish Members Institute.
  • a biomass boiler for a refurbished mill/furniture workshop for New Deal trainees and the Keighley Furniture Project.

Clear Skies manager Chris Roberts of BRE says, 'We are delighted at the continuing success of Clear Skies, and the real benefits it is bringing to people. To mention just one example, a grant from the 4th round to the Blean Wern Farm Trust in Carmarthenshire has helped to provide solar heating for a swimming pool used as a therapeutic aid for sick and disabled children. The President of the Trust has told us that this has made it economically viable to extend the pool's use to 52 weeks a year, helping to improve the health of countless more children in the years to come'.  

'I hope this sort of success will encourage many more community organisations to apply for grants,' says Chris Roberts. 'The deadlines for the next rounds of applications are 30th July 2004 and 29 October 2004. Details of a possible eighth round are under development and dependent on available funds - they will be published when available.'


Clear Skies
The Clear Skies initiative aims to give householders and communities a chance to realise the benefits of renewable energy by providing grants and access to advice. It is funded by DTI and managed by BRE.

Not-for-profit community organisations such as registered charities and trusts, housing associations, schools, local authorities, and hospitals are encouraged to apply. The renewable energy technologies being promoted are: solar thermal, wind, small-scale hydro, biomass and ground source heat pumps. Applications are invited for up to £100,000 or 50% of total project cost whichever is the lower. Householders can apply for grants at anytime for the same technologies, although the grant levels are lower and dependent on the technology to be installed.

Clear Skies aims to create a better understanding of the range of benefits renewables deliver. The initiative also registers professional installers and lists renewable energy products with the aim of ensuring that the general public can trust the skills of installers and the quality of manufactured renewable energy products.

Further information is from www.clear-skies.org or via the Clear Skies Helpline on 0870 243 0930.

The Scottish Executive is putting up £3.7 million to fund its own parallel scheme. Further information from www.est.org.uk/schri or via 0800 1388 858.

Press Enquiries to Helen Ball at BRE, Garston, Watford  WD25 9XX.
Tel 01923 664303, Email ballh@bre.co.uk

Photographs illustrating Clear Skies projects are available from harveyt@bre.co.uk


Notes to editors

1.       Press/Media Enquiries to Helen Ball at BRE, Garston, Watford  WD25 9XX. Tel 01923 664303, Email ballh@bre.co.uk

2.       In November 2001 the Prime Minister announced the allocation of an additional £100 million of funding for renewable energy. This allocation was based on recommendations contained in a report by the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU).  In its report the PIU recognised that, 'issues on the planning front will not get renewable energy off the ground unless the public extends its general support for renewable energy to support for renewable energy in local situations.  This makes community engagement crucial, so that more people are either individually involved in renewable energy schemes or able to see them'.

3.       As such the PIU report recommended that up to £10 million of support be provided as capital grants for 'community and household schemes'.  The 'Clear Skies' initiative represents this allocation and has been known as the Community and Household Capital Grant Scheme for Renewable Energy whilst being designed.

4.       Detailed information about the initiative can be found at the website www.clear-skies.org or by phoning the helpline 08702 430 930.  Members of the public in Scotland will be able to register for The Scottish Community and Householders Initiative via www.est.co.uk/schri or by phoning 0800 138 8858.

5.       Responsibility for running of the scheme lies with the Building Research Establishment as the programme management contractor. www.bre.co.uk

6.       The Community Renewables Initiative (CRI) was launched in February 2002 and provides advice and free training on all topics associated with renewable energy. A similar service is provided by the Renewable Energy Advice Centre (REAC) pilots. Both schemes are funded by the DTI and have already been successful in helping communities establish their own renewable energy projects. The Countryside Agency runs the CRI and the Energy Saving Trust run the REACs.

7.       Community groups and homeowners can apply for funding through the first phase of the £20m Major Photovoltaics Demonstration Programme. This should see PV systems installed on 2,500 homes and 70 medium and large non-domestic buildings - a total of 9MWp-installed capacity. Further details can be obtained through the helpline 0800 298 3978 or www.solarpvgrants.co.uk.

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