Major government green grant for innovative village project


A following wind from the Rural Community Energy Fund will help the village of Harbury realise its dream of an innovative new design of wind turbine, solar power and green energy to power an electric vehicle charging station.

As new petrol and diesel polluting cars will be banned from 2030 Harbury, a rural village in Warwickshire, plans to install 4 fast chargers and 1 rapid charger on a car park adjacent to the Village Hall for use by residents who live in terraced houses and flats and the wider visiting public.

Harbury e-Wheels, a registered charity founded and run by residents of the village, is delighted to announce the award of a Stage 2 grant of £98,000 from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). The funds will allow us to develop the project, Harbury Future Energy, to be fully ‘business ready’, although it will not cover the capital costs of installing the vertical axis wind turbine, solar panels, battery storage and public charge points to deliver energy to electric cars for the benefit of all residents and visitors to the village.

The Project
A year ago the project was awarded a Stage 1 grant to assess the feasibility of the project. The findings of the report by Greenwatt Technology won a green light for the project team to apply for a Stage 2 grant. The application was successful and £98,000 has been allocated to Harbury Future Energy to develop the project further. The project aims to capture and store the the energy in wind and sun to mitigate the effects of climate change in our community. An innovative vertical axis wind turbine, delivering 7kWp, and a 10kWp solar array will be installed with an energy storage battery to contribute to the energy needed to power charge points for the two electric cars of Harbury e-Wheels and for public use in the village. The facility will also connect to the national grid to draw additional energy on a green tariff and sell surplus energy back to the national grid. The facility will also aspire, in due course, to produce hydrogen through electrolysis for use in tomorrow’s hydrogen powered vehicles in readiness for the transition to hydrogen technology.

In the longer term income generated by the project will fund Harbury e-Wheels, a registered charitable company (no 1188537) that arose from a village low carbon group, Harbury Energy Initiative (HEI). Harbury e-Wheels provides free transport, using 2 electric cars, to people in need referred by local social agencies.

“We constantly strive in Harbury to meet the serious challenge of the climate crisis in whatever way we can at a local level. The transition to electric vehicles will come sooner than many realise and will leave those in rural areas who have no off-road parking with nowhere convenient to charge their cars. With this project we hope to help our residents keep up with developments in urban areas and at the same time cut carbon emissions. We still have the challenge of finding the capital funds to complete the project but this Stage 2 grant from RCEF is an enormous help to realising our dream.” Bob Sherman, Chair Harbury e-Wheels.

“Your idea of a community electric vehicle charging hub is an interesting one, it has the potential to be a blueprint for providing charging in rural locations where residents do not have access to off road parking and your incorporation of renewable energy into the hub is also very innovative.” Tony Perks, Deputy Chief Executive, Stratford District Council.

“I am very pleased to confirm the strong in principle support of Harbury Parish Council to your application to the RCEF. The parish council has an enduring record of encouraging energy efficiency in the village, including support for the solar panels that have been installed at the village hall, and financial support for the e-Wheels project over several years. There is a clear appetite for eco-friendly policies in the village and the e-Wheels project has provided a vital village service for a number of years.” Prof Tim Lockley, Chair Harbury Parish Council.

Harbury e-Wheels
Harbury e-Wheels is a volunteer-run transport scheme based in Harbury that uses two electric cars to support those in our local communities who, for medical or financial reasons, have few or no transport options. Originally launched by Harbury Energy Initiative and in association with the local church’s Supporting Communities Group, Harbury eWheels is now an independent programme and registered charity but maintains those links. The scheme provides around 1,500 hours of free transport every year.

The programme works with local agencies such as Children’s Centres, surgeries, P3, Citizen’s Advice, food banks and other community services on a referral basis only. Harbury e-Wheels provides this low carbon clean transport at absolutely no cost to the user or agency. We are only able to do this through the generosity of private donors and grants from various sources including Harbury Parish Council, Southam Town Council, Bishop’s Itchington Parish Council, Heart of England Community Energy, HS2 CEF and other trust funds.

Rural Community Energy Fund
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is being delivered by the five Local Energy Hubs in England on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In this region it is administered by The Midlands Energy Hub.

Clean renewable energy generation at community level is beneficial both to the community and the wider environment. By reducing dependence on fossil fuel based energy generation communities can secure future energy supply, gain protection from rising fuel costs and duties and reduce the risk of fuel poverty. Income from renewable projects can be used to provide benefits to the community, create jobs, and promote social cohesion.

The Fund aims are to:

  • Support rural communities – by helping them to maximise the income generating potential of renewable energy and put this to work locally;
  • Increase the uptake of community and locally owned renewable energy, to support the Government’s targets for renewable energy and carbon reduction; and
  • Promote rural growth, job creation and volunteering opportunities – to enable communities to access the economic benefits associated with renewable energy schemes.

The Fund will achieve its aims by removing the barriers to investment, which is currently seen to be preventing the development of community scale projects, such as the up-front costs associated with gaining planning permission, designing a scheme and providing evidence of technical feasibility. It does this by providing funding to community organisations to establish the feasibility of and develop the business plan for a renewable energy facility. Currently the cost of exploring feasibility and developing an investment ready business plan is high and finance for this is not readily available in the commercial market.

For further information about Harbury Energy Initiative and Harbury e-Wheels, please contact: Bob Sherman - tel: 01926 612277 email: For further information about RCEF, please contact: Ruth Mulvany - tel 07874 795172 email: