Rural Community Energy

The Diocese of Exeter has secured funding to develop community energy projects with local people in Devon. Starting in Okehampton, it is hoped to investigate the potential for churches to provide renewable forms of power to supply both church and community buildings.

People living in rural districts can suffer from expensive heating and uncertain electrical supply and there is significant potential for reducing costs and carbon emissions through the employment of suitable renewable energy generation.

In a partnership with the Devon Association for Renewable Energy (DARE), the plan is to assess whether woodland owned by the Church of England locally could be managed in ways to provide sustainable timber for wood heating systems.

Martyn Goss, Diocesan Environment Officer said, “Potentially we could be reducing fossil fuel dependency in rural areas by switching to wood chip boilers instead of oil, with the timber being sourced from within a short-distant radius. This will be good for the environment and local economy.”

If the scheme proves to be successful in Okehampton, it is likely to be extended to Witheridge and Branscombe.

The finance for this comes from the government’s WRAP programme – working together for a world without waste through the Rural Community Energy Fund.