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Four projects in the North East have received funding from the North East and Yorkshire (NEY) Net Zero Hub to support the deployment of renewable energy systems in rural communities.

Humsaugh Net Zero CIC, Haltwhistle Partnership, Norham Community Energy Project and Smart Connected Renewable Community Energy have all been awarded funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), a £10m national scheme that helps rural communities to develop Supported renewable energy projects.

According to Andrew Clark, head of the energy sector at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), the four projects have received funds left over from underspending elsewhere in the country.

Funding is managed by the North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub and the North East LEP helps allocate funds to projects in the North East.

Humshaugh Net Zero CIC has been awarded £67,000 to develop a solar PV power generation plant, due to be ready for construction in 2023. Solar PV was identified as a viable solution for the Humshaugh community in the RCEF-1 Phase 2 study following a comprehensive independent review of low-carbon energy generation options.

Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Center secured £53,320 to enable the completion of all necessary pre-development work needed to proceed with its work and harness the heat of water flowing through underground mines to help heat its pool, which potentially could provide heat for neighboring sites.

The Norham Community Energy Project was awarded an additional £34,973 to hire a qualified and experienced consultant to assess the community’s energy needs, study local renewable energy production opportunities and advise on the relative viability of the options available.

Smart Connected Renewable Community Energy (CAN) was awarded £94,060 to advance the installation of solar panels and associated battery storage in 19 community buildings assessed in the first phase of their project using funds from their original RCEF grant.

Karen Oliver-Spry, Manager of the NEY Hub, said: “It’s great to see such interesting, varied and useful projects being supported by the NEY Net Zero Hub. There is so much potential for communities to take control of the energy in their communities, to make it greener, more sustainable and more affordable for local people.”

Andrew Clark added: “Community energy is a key theme in the North East Energy for Growth strategy, which sets out how we will drive economic growth in our region while meeting national energy goals such as reducing carbon emissions and promoting innovative new energies technologies.”

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