Various, UK

The challenge: bringing low-carbon heating to rural communities

Rural homes are often older and harder to insulate than those in urban areas, and many are located off the mains gas grid. However, if the UK is to reach its target of becoming net zero by 2050, rural communities, who are 17% of England’s population, can't be left behind. Decarbonising the way we heat these rural homes is a crucial strategy for this.

The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is a £10 million programme funded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects, which in turn provide economic and social benefits to the community.

We worked with four local communities across England to explore the feasibility of developing community-led, net-zero-carbon compatible heating systems:

  • Whittington and Fisherwick, Staffordshire
  • Shenstone, Staffordshire
  • Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Oxfordshire
  • Grand Union Community, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire

How we helped: developing feasibility studies and engaging the community

Our work has included modelling the energy demand of existing buildings, exploring the feasibility of different heat sources in each local area, and developing technical and economically feasible solutions for community-wide heat networks. We ran several in-depth community engagement workshops, introducing residents to the benefits of a decarbonised community heating system:

  • long-term price stability
  • low-carbon source of energy
  • opportunities for local ownership
  • potential investment opportunity

The impact: gathering community feedback via bespoke websites

As part of our engagement activity on the RCEF projects, we created bespoke websites to house project updates and gather community feedback. We also surveyed households on their energy consumption, house type information, and preferences on the proposed system options. In Whittington and Fisherwick, 68% of residents opted for a centralised energy centre with a village-wide network.

Want to find out more about our work with communities?

Get in touch below, or click here to learn more about how we can help with your retrofit project.

Get in touch

Lewis Knight
Head of Sustainable Places

Fill in the form to send your enquiry direct to Lewis

Thank you for getting in touch

We will get back to you as soon as possible