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£5.5m funding boost for renewables projects

By John Davidson

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Paul Wheelhouse (right) at last year's All Energy event.
Paul Wheelhouse (right) at last year's All Energy event.

Community renewables and other low-carbon projects will help to kick-start a 'green recovery' after £5.5 million of funding was announced by the Scottish Government.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse declared the additional funding during a webinar for the virtual All Energy conference.

Communities will be able to bid for a share of £4.5 million through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), which funds local renewables projects.

A further £1 million is being made available through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP), a scheme which provides support for innovative energy projects such as heat networks and integrated energy systems.

During his address via video link, Mr Wheelhouse also confirmed that Lewis Shand Smith, former chief ombudsman in energy, telecoms and property, has been appointed chairman of the newly formed Energy Consumers Commission.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Renewables will play an increasing role in helping us achieve a green recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. As we continue to plan for a safe restart to the economy, we must continue to work together to bring forward new renewable energy projects right across Scotland.

“The investment I am announcing today will help to push forward renewables projects that will help to rebuild the economy, support local communities to build their strength and resilience, and help us achieve our net-zero ambitions.

“Consumers and local communities are integral to the green recovery, and helping us rebuild following the pandemic. The new Energy Consumers Commission is a key part of that, and I would like to welcome Lewis Shand Smith – who brings a wealth of experience – as the commission’s first chairman.”

Communities, public sector organisations and rural businesses are now being encouraged to apply for the CARES funding, with expressions of interest required by July 22 for this round of grants.

The Scottish Government scheme says there is an opportunity to focus on a green recovery by aiding economic activity that puts tackling climate change and our ambition to reach net zero at the heart of everything we do.

CARES funding can be used to develop projects and to install renewable energy generation, such as solar panels on a community owned building, or support local energy projects working towards Scotland’s net-zero ambition. Both urban and rural communities are encouraged to apply.

The LCITP fund is now accepting applications from innovative energy systems and low-carbon heat projects in the development stage. Eligible projects will be able to apply for up to £50,000 to progress projects towards capital readiness.

Nick Sharpe, director of communications and strategy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Scottish Renewables has joined many other organisations in the UK and around the world in calling for a green economic recovery from coronavirus – one which does not lock in fossil fuel investment, but gives us a chance to build a fairer, healthier, more resilient society.

“The funds committed to CARES will provide an opportunity for communities to invest in and benefit from the energy generation technologies of the future as we move towards net-zero emissions by 2045.

“The additional funding which has been allocated to the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme will, as this programme has proved in the past, support some of the most cutting-edge and ambitious energy projects anywhere in the world, and we're delighted that they will now be able to form some of the green shoots of Scotland's recovery from the current global health emergency.”

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