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New fund allows communities to create power stations

A new £10 million fund will make it possible for local communities to come together and create their own power stations. Funding will be made available as part of the Urban Community Energy Fund and allow community groups to apply for grants of up to £20,000 or loans of up to £130,000.

The initiative is a way of encouraging people to look towards greener formers of energy, and it is part of the government drive to move towards cleaner methods of energy generation.

Under the scheme, communities will be able to create local “power hubs” by finding innovative new ways to generate renewable energy. Examples include the installation of solar panels on buildings, and the construction of anaerobic digestion plants, which would take local waste and burn it to create energy.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

“I want to give more people the power to generate their own electricity and by supporting community energy projects we can - helping them drive down their energy bills at the same time.

“That’s why we’ve pledged £10 million, so communities can play their part in generating renewable power at a local level. This is all about investing in renewable energy sources, creating jobs and changing the way renewable energy is developed in the UK.”

New Initiatives

East Sussex is being cited as one area that has come up with a unique idea that provides a greener source of energy, as well as helping to save money on energy bills. A local community energy scheme fitted solar panels into the brewery walls, and now uses the sun’s rays to help it provide green fuel. The scheme allows the brewery to reduce the cost of their energy bills, and the community also gains as it gets money back from the Feed in Tariff.

Feed in Tariff Scheme

Communities that wish to develop their own energy schemes have now been told that they will get additional support from the Feed in Tariff Scheme. The Feed in Tariff Scheme allows community energy project owners to earn extra money by getting paid for the energy production.

Community Investment Projects

According to research from Ethex, renewable energy schemes have fast become one of the most popular types of community investment projects and have already generated millions of pounds. It is hoped that with additional support from the government, many more community investment projects will be set up, allowing entire communities to benefit from the generation of green energy.

Growth remains steady, but manufacturing faces challenges

New figures from the CBI show that there is encouraging news for the economy. Growth in the UK continues to remain steady, however, the CBI predict that it might level off slightly during the final quarter of the year.

Despite the positive news of steady growth, the CBI did sound a note of caution and stated that: “Expectations for growth are not as strong as earlier in the year”.

Commenting on the latest growth indicator figures, Rain Newton Smith, Director of Economics for the CBI, said:

“This shows a continuing story of solid growth.

“Previously pent-up demand delivered a strong boost to growth during the first half of the year but this effect may be fading. The UK is continuing to expand on a healthy trajectory, returning now to steadier and more sustainable growth rates.  

“Domestic political uncertainty is an issue for businesses but the global backdrop is a greater concern. The Eurozone is weak, with a real risk of deflation, growth in emerging markets has slowed and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine are the biggest threats to confidence.”

Manufacturing Industry

One of the strongest performers was the service sector, but news wasn’t all good for the manufacturing industry. Economic indicators from the CBI showed manufacturing growth was still weak, but it has performed better in the last quarter with 15 of 18 of the manufacturing sectors reporting an increase in output. However, the reduced demand for exports meant that the growth in the manufacturing sector was stalling when compared with figures from earlier this year.

Mixed outlook for manufacturing

421 manufacturers were surveyed by the CBI and most indicated they expect output volumes to remain low in the near future. The majority of sectors stated export orders remained low, with the mechanical engineering sector suffering the most.

Manufacturers also expect their output prices to increase over the next quarter due to price inflation.

In addition, there  were mixed views on the possibility of growth in the next three months; 28% manufacturers think orders will increase while 18% predict they will fall.

Moreover, there was a mixed picture for output in the last quarter; 36% of those surveyed said that output had increased in the last quarter, and 22% stated it had fallen.

The CBI stated that manufacturers were facing many challenges in the export markets such as slow growth in the Eurozone and greater competition from countries like China.

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