About our grant funding
What kind of support is Lancaster Cohousing receiving?
We successfully applied for a grant as part of an initiative called the Rural Carbon Challenge Fund (RCCF), which was set up to support community-level renewable energy projects across the north west of England. The RCCF is funded by Defra – the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. In order to secure the funding we needed to demonstrate that our project could do the following:
- offer an element of innovation and uniqueness, for example the first demonstration of the technology in a rural setting
- be delivered in and for the benefit of rural communities within the North West
- act as a regional demonstrator to enable the dissemination of best practice
- offer good value for money in terms of carbon savings and energy generation, jobs created, benefits to the rural economy and agricultural and forestry sectors
- be able to demonstrate the potential for replication of the project elsewhere (the projects are to be considered trailblazers)
- have the ability to meet the required operational timelines and be installed and fully operational by October 2013.
We were also successful in gaining a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) which has covered part of the refurbishment of Halton Mill. RDPE is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and its priorities are to support employment and development activities in rural areas of England.
What is the money being used for?
The heating for our homes and communal buildings is provided by what’s called a ‘district heating system’. This means that instead of having a boiler in each house, a single, highly efficient boiler, housed in the Mill building and powered by woodchip (biomass), feeds a network of radiators across the whole site via insulated pipes. The boiler is supplemented by over 50m2 of solar thermal collectors on our south-facing roofs, and the resulting system also provides domestic hot water to our kitchens and bathrooms.
District heating systems are common in other countries, but still unusual in the UK – and as far as we know this is the first district heating system in the country to combine biomass and solar thermal energy sources. The district heating model, with a single large boiler rather than many small ones, makes it much more viable to use woodchip as fuel, and we are demonstrating how efficiently this technology can work.
Our share of the grant funding contributed to some of the costs of the new district heating system, specifically:
- The district heating pipework to the homes, and pipework and distribution in the Mill
- The central control system for the district heating
- Some of the district heating design costs
We are still meeting the majority of the district heating costs ourselves, including the solar thermal panels, the woodchip boiler, and the heating pipework and components (heat exchangers, storage cylinders, radiators etc) inside our homes, as well as the remaining costs of all the aspects that the grant is contributing to.
Is the rest of Halton involved in this?
We obtained our grant funding in partnership with Halton Community Association (HCA). HCA’s share of the funding is supporting the development of community-owned hydroelectric project at Forge Weir on the River Lune – directly adjoining our site.
All the profits from the hydro project will be put back into the community, and we will be buying green electricity from the scheme once it is up and running. More information on the hydro scheme is available at www.haltonlunehydro.org