Brighton Energy Coop Community Fund

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Grants

Brighton Energy Co-op’s Community Fund provides renewable energy grants, grants for energy efficiency projects and ensures BEC Solar Schools are engaged with solar technology and carbon reduction through our BEC Solar Education Programme. Each year BEC members vote to allocate the fund’s cash to local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It’s open for any organisation in the BN postcode area.

In early 2021 we will be focusing on the BEC Solar Education Programme for our Solar Schools.

About BEC’s energy efficiency and renewable energy grants

The Community Fund is a grant of up to £3,500 sourced from BEC’s annual income plus donations from BEC members and supporters. It’s intended to subside a small local projects or practical initiatives that can deliver renewable energy and/or energy efficiency.

Project proposals need to to demonstrate that they develop, deliver and/or promote a balance of environmental, economic and social benefits to the local community, by implementing renewable energy projects, delivering energy efficiency measures, alleviating fuel poverty, and/or undertaking educational and campaign initiatives.

Emphasis will be on practical projects that lead to real benefits to the local community in the BN postcode area within a short timescale.

How to apply

Download and read the Application Guidelines here. Complete the online Application Webform or send the offline Application Form via email with the subject “BEC community fund” to info [at] or via post to 7, 47 Montpelier Road, Brighton, BN1 3BA.

Qualifying for the fund

To qualify for the fund, the project proposed must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Project Type: either renewable energy or energy efficiency projects
  • Project Budget: fully or partially financed (25-50%) by the BEC community fund, up to maximum of £3,500. If partially financed, the organisation must provide evidence of the existing budget already allocated to the project (via a bank statement).
  • Project Area: within the BN postcode area
  • Project Time scale: up and running by March 2019
  • Project Feasibility: realistic, financially viable and feasible within budget and time
  • Deliverables: annual energy, CO2 and cost saving. measurable or best estimated
  • Project exposure: evidence of the outreach of the project within the local community(ies). e.g. estimate of number of people who will benefit from the project, marketing exposure of the organisation and/or of the project.

Winner 2017: Energise Sussex Coast - renewable energy grant

In 2017 BEC members decided that our community fund would go to Energise Sussex Coast, a community group in Hastings that, in collaboration with the BEC project development team, intends to launch its own community share offer. The funds were used to pay for ESC’s promotional materials and share offer document.

With BEC’s support the project intends to:

  • 1) Link community investors with some of the poorest parts of Hastings.
  • 2) Pioneer a community energy project in Hastings that’s one of the sunniest places in the UK.
  • 3) Build capacity for larger projects in Hastings.
  • 4) Reduce energy costs for community buildings in Ore.
  • 5) Generate excitement and a community fund to develop further projects.

Winner 2016: BHESCo's 'Warmth for Wellbeing' - energy efficiency grant

In 2016 our members chose a very different beneficiary: Brighton and Hove Energy Services Coop (BHESCO). One of BHESCo’s activities is the ‘Warmth For Wellbeing’ programme, making homes warmer and more comfortable while also reducing monthly energy bills for those who may struggle to keep up.

BHESCo have completed over 200 free energy surveys around Brighton; BEC members voted to provide funds to carry out more free home energy surveys and implement measures for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Using the BEC Community Fund, BHESCO energy assessors visited 15 people in their homes to assess what could be done, without altering the structure of the property, to make it warmer and more energy efficient.  They then sourced the measures and went back a second time to install them.

In total BHESCO installed:

  • 15 Geo energy monitors
  • 60 LED lights
  • Draught-proofing to 8 windows and doors
  • 12 radiator reflector panels
  • 1 chimney balloon
  • and switched 5 people to a better energy tariff
energy efficiency grants
“I visited a single man in an old, inefficient building. He struggled to afford heating and rarely turned on his central heating. He was also in debt with his energy supplier and paying almost double the amount for his energy. This caused him a lot of stress as he was always concerned about keeping up payments.

We switched him to a cheaper energy tariff, (saving him £170 per year), installed LED lightbulbs, radiator reflector panels a draught-excluder and an energy monitor. His energy bills have halved, and he uses less electricity, giving him the confidence to be able to turn up the heating during the winter.”

(BHESCO Energy Assessor)

Winner 2015: Brighton Earthship - renewable energy grant

Installation of 4kWp of solar panels to increase renewable energy generating capacity.
The Earthship Brighton is an off grid community and education centre in Preston Park in Brighton. It gets around 3,000 visitors a year: 1,600 local school children, 250 participants on Green Building Courses (including ‘Introduction to Photovoltaics’) and over 1000 visitors on tours. After running the centre for 10 years, The LCT needed to increase the renewable electricity generating capacity. After successfully qualifying for a BEC renewable energy grant, LCT increased the existing 1 kWp of solar panels to 4 kWp, allowing the earthship to run purely on solar electricity.

Electricity is stored in batteries with a backup generator running on plant oil or bio-diesel to top up the batteries if required. This makes the Earthship Brighton the only zero carbon off grid building that that people can visit in Sussex.

Project cost:
£3,150. BEC funds covered 79% of project costs, for capital equipment: 12 x 250 W mono -crystalline PV modules + fixing.

Measurable saving: 4000 kWh / year electricity, provided by off-grid solar generation at EarthShip

Educative output:
Offgrid renewable energy showcase; Ongoing environmental education program: Tours; Eco-days, Green Building Courses, including ‘Introduction to Photovoltaics’( ~250 pp/year).

Social benefit to community:
Educational venue

The Applicant:
The Low Carbon Trust (LCT) is a not-for-profit organisation that was formed in 2001 to set up, manage and promote environmental projects (including the Brighton Earthship). Its main objective is tackling climate change through highlighting the connection between buildings, energy use and carbon emissions.

renewable energy grants

“Now that the Earthship Brighton runs on renewable electricity again our visitors are inspired by a fully functioning earthship powered by the sun!”

Misha Hewitt, Chairman of the Low Carbon Trust