Renewable energy in deprived areas
Big Society Capital has committed to invest £750,000 (alongside £500,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation) in the Community Generation Fund, managed by the FSE Group.
What is the impact strategy?
Projects such as wind-turbines and small hydro-electric generators will produce energy for local communities, who will be able to sell any surplus back to the national grid and use the income from this to support other community projects such as fuel poverty mitigation, community centres and youth projects in disadvantaged areas. The aim is to develop a track record to attract other investors to create an eventual £15m fund which will have the potential over time to support over 130 communities to develop their own community-owned renewable energy projects. The Community Generation Fund will initially aim to support up to 11 communities to build their own community renewable projects.
How does the investment work?
Its purpose is to deliver growth funding and support to disadvantaged communities to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint and to generate an income for the community through the development of community-owned renewable energy projects. The Fund will provide the critical funding for the planning and pre-planning stage of projects as well as long-term funding for the construction phase.
How is it helping develop the social investment market?
The Fund will tap into the growing interest in community-led infrastructure projects. Specifically, it helps address a critical bottleneck in community asset financing, namely the availability of feasibility and pre-planning finance, as well as capital loans fpr smaller scale projects not covered by mainstream finance. The Fund is managed by FSE, who are an experienced SME investor expanding its social investment activities.
How will we evidence the impact of our investment?
For each investment, the Fund will identify and report on the details of the intervention, the outcomes for communities, as well as the long-term benefits of both the development and construction phases.
The Community Generation Fund will be managed by FSE Fund Managers (a FSE 100% owned subsidiary which is authorised and regulated by the FCA). The subsidiary FSE is an independent Community Interest Company established in 2002.
Personal and social well-being
- Improved community cohesion and community relations, neighbourliness
Local area and getting around
- Improved access to and use of local facilities
- Increase in community assets, community facilities and centres
- Increased community cohesion
Arts, culture and recreation
- Community owned facilities
- Improved community empowerment
- Increased public and community awareness and participation in decision-making
Climate change and conservation
- Increased access to low cost renewable energy sources
- Community, Sector and Society