Community Renewable Energy Fund
The government has committed $46 million to support community-based renewable energy projects to help households afford and secure the energy they need. This new Fund further supports the government’s effort to enhance resiliency in communities and trial innovative ways to store and distribute locally generated electricity.
The Community Renewable Energy Fund has been established to support renewable energy projects that help communities to access secure, renewable and more affordable energy. Cheaper power also encourages households to better heat their homes, which leads to improved health outcomes.
The Fund focuses on supporting innovative projects that trial new ways of storing and distributing locally generated electricity. This can help inform larger–scale projects in the future.
Some communities, particularly those in remote areas and islands, don’t have reliable access to affordable energy. For example, some communities aren’t connected to the national electricity grid, and others may be at higher risk of power outages from natural hazards, such as earthquakes, storms, and floods. These risks will increase as our climate changes.
Investing in locally generated electricity helps enhance community resilience by providing an alternative and more secure source of electricity, while also increasing energy independence.
There is a range of building types that can be considered for this fund, such as:
- community housing
- community buildings
- civil defence–designated buildings.
More information will be available on the eligibility criteria when the fund’s design is finalised later this year.
This new Fund builds on the successful Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund.
In May 2022, the Government committed $16 million over 4 years for community-based renewable energy projects. This was expanded in May 2023 with an additional $30 million through until 2027.
The Community Renewable Energy Fund comprises of workstreams that complement each other and take a holistic approach to driving energy sector innovation through collaboration between suppliers, electricity distribution businesses, the wider community, funding partners and central and local government agencies.
The workstreams are:
$6.5m for solar PV and battery systems on community buildings in regions affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and other severe weather events
Up to 40 community buildings used to support the emergency response during this year’s North Island severe weather events will be fitted with solar PV and battery systems. Areas identified for targeted funding are Northland, Auckland, Waikato including Coromandel, Tairāwhiti, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa,
Community buildings are often used in civil defence events to protect people during and immediately after emergency events. The Fund’s investment in solar PV and battery systems for these buildings will provide communities with renewable energy for emergency events and for day-to-day use.
MBIE is not running a contestable open funding round for this workstream. Suitable community buildings – like marae, places of worship halls, schools and community halls – are being identified and prioritised in collaboration with government agencies, local authorities, Civil Defence Emergency Management and Cyclone Recovery staff, and community and Māori organisations involved in recovery efforts.
$2.5 million to establish a capability–building hub to support communities with the development of renewable energy projects
Generating electricity locally can deliver huge benefits but there are barriers in getting these types of projects off the ground including a lack of capability and expertise within communities to design and develop suitable projects, particularly large scale, more complex projects.
A new capability-building hub will help address these barriers for the community. The virtual hub is expected to be up and running by mid-2024 and will provide technical support for communities to create robust, informed business plans to take their renewable energy projects forward.
We expect the hub to be in operation until June 2027. MBIE is in the process of procuring a supplier to provide the capability-building hub and is investigating opportunities for the hub to be co-funded and/or supported by technical expertise from electricity distribution businesses and other energy sector organisations, to help expand the reach of the hub.
More information on how to access the hub will be available in early 2024 before it commences operation.
$27m for community–level renewable energy projects across the motu
From mid-2024, $27 million in funding will be available to help communities deliver a mix of energy resilience projects, ranging in scale and complexity, and bespoke community energy scheme opportunities across Aotearoa, in and beyond the North Island weather event recovery regions.
MBIE will work in collaboration with the community energy sector, and iwi and Māori organisations to design how the fund will operate.
Information on the application process, eligibility criteria and how to apply will be available in mid-2024.
$1.4 million for the evaluation of the Community Renewable Energy Fund.
This evaluation will assess the Fund’s outcomes against its goals and be used to inform future investment, policy advice, and research.
A total of $1.12 million in funding was awarded to 5 high-quality projects in 2023. These projects were unsuccessful in an earlier bid to the Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund, missing only on the criteria to ‘predominantly support those in Māori or public housing’.
The new Fund has an expanded scope of eligible projects, and given the high quality of these 5 projects, a small amount of funding was released early.
Five community energy projects kick start, May 2023(external link) — Beehive.govt.nz
For any enquires or to be updated about this Fund, please email us at:
Please keep an eye on this page for further updates and sign up for our news updates below to keep up to date.