Herefordshire Council's Story
The overall aims and objectives of the MarRE Project were to develop new renewable energy projects, support and educate businesses, local authorities and communities to reduce CO2 emissions and increase resilience through the promotion of energy efficiency measures.
The project provided an incentive for organisations in the Marches to install renewable technologies including local authorities, statutory and non-statutory public-funded organisations/bodies, higher and further education institutions, voluntary/community organisations, private sector companies, registered charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Technologies supported included wind, solar, aerothermal, geothermal, hydrothermal, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas and sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
Grants were awarded at 50% of total costs. In July 2021, the total cost of projects ranged between £5,085.60 and £161,630.06 with 50% grant funding ranging between £2,542.80 and £80,815.03. The average total cost of an installation was £25,390.63.
The MarRE Project commenced in June 2019 and is anticipated to be completed by 31 December 2021. All expenditure is committed.
The key project activities were: inviting Expressions of Interest; governing Steering Group and project board meetings; grant applications; installing renewables; and marketing, publicity and case studies.
The project outcomes were: supporting the deployment of 2.12MW of renewable installation; providing a grant of 50% towards the cost of the renewable installation; decreasing carbon emissions from applicants in the Marches; benefiting the renewable energy supply chain, in and around the Marches and in turn benefiting the skilled jobs market.
A two-stage application process was developed to try to ensure a quick turn-around in the decision-making process (Expression of Interest and Full Application). The Call for Expressions of Interest was open until 20 June 2021.
Key stakeholders involved in the promotion and delivery of the scheme included: Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Councils; The Marches Business Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP); Sustainability West Midlands; Marches Growth Hub(s); and renewable energy installers
The MarRE Project has been successful in delivering its primary goal to encourage the installation of renewable energy regeneration technologies after the demise of the FiT scheme. The team put in place extremely efficient processes and systems, ensuring a very quick turnaround following project approval and claiming grant funding.
Useful Learnings from Herefordshire Council
The success of the MarRE Project, particularly its delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic over such a large geographical area, provides a good example of how to bring a Project to a successful conclusion when faced with circumstances that are extreme and unforeseen.
This is demonstrated through the flexible and adaptable nature of the Project Team, thorough risk mitigation being in place, general momentum that was built and collective working established through the Project Steering Group and Board.
In reflecting upon factors which contributed to the success of their projects, Project beneficiaries have made specific reference to having access to a Project Team that always made themselves available and provided valuable support.
Design of future funding bids might like to understand ways a broader range of renewable technologies could be supported. The intention of the grant scheme was that all renewables are eligible but due to the economics of renewables the scheme has supported mostly installation of solely solar PV.
A future project could engage a range of technical experts to help guide the development of individual projects. This would be particularly useful when comparing very different technologies.
Although the renewables technology installations have been mainly focused on solar PV, the Project has uncovered and encouraged the appetite for low-carbon energy solutions across a range of organisations in the Marches. In this respect, the MarRE Project has provided a good pilot project that could help to shape future initiatives.
Herefordshire Council's Metrics
Estimated decrease of greenhouse gases in tonnes of CO2.
Number of enterprises receiving support.