Innovation grant

The Scottish Government's CARES innovation grant provides funding of up to £150,000 and has been designed to:

  1. improve the viability of larger CARES capital projects by grant funding elements of the renewable/local energy system project, or
  2. fund local energy system innovation activity, or
  3. support the replication of CARES innovation projects that have worked well.

 The CARES innovation grant seeks to support organisations taking forward innovative local energy projects aligned with CARES objectives, and wherever possible for this innovation to lead to significant benefits through learning outcomes.  It is a grant scheme specifically to support projects or pilots of new approaches and actions, demonstrator projects and those that innovate to overcome common challenges where local ownership, community involvement and/or community benefits are at the heart of the projects developed. The overall aim of this fund is to stimulate innovative approaches to unlock potential for local energy projects with a strong focus on community scale solutions.

Once you have reviewed the general guidance on applying to CARES and want to proceed with an innovative project you should read the Innovation grant guidance.  

Download an application form.

You can find out about the application deadlines here.

Please note that applications for this round will provide a pipeline of projects for delivery in 2020/21. The CARES panel will assess the applications, but confirmation of funding will not be provided (and projects will not be able to progress) until the Scottish Government provides confirmation of the 2020/21 CARES budget.  

We’d welcome projects that support local and community involvement in local energy systems that lead to new installations of locally owned renewable energy generation and local energy systems. 

The grant funding is expected to be highly competitive, and we are looking for projects to demonstrate the following:

  • a whole system approach
  • local benefits
  • shared ownership
  • pathway to net zero emissions

In previous rounds we have supported the demonstration of Solar PV and batteries and EV charging.  These projects will not be prioritised in this round, whilst we understand the impact of these demonstrator projects. We would welcome applications that assess the feasibility of, or demonstrate, energy storage projects that can be aggregated or installed at a scale to benefit the future energy system.

If the Climate Emergency and net zero targets have inspired you to take action but you’re not sure what kind of project you’d like to take forward, you could use CARES funding for an options appraisal. We have lots of project models and examples on our website to help you to start thinking about what might work in your area. We’d welcome applications to fund option appraisals for ambitious low carbon local energy projects that achieve significant carbon savings. Options appraisal projects must include low carbon heat and support will be provided to help you to commission and complete these studies. It’s important not to be set on a particular outcome or technology for these appraisals but you will need to have an idea of some of the possible options for investigation and you must have significant drive to take a project forward.

Exemplar projects that address power, heat and transport will also be important to show other communities what can be achieved. One example is in Shetland, wind turbines are used to charge a community mini bus and provide heat and hot water to local buildings including the local school. Find out more about this inspiring project here

Communities with experience in community energy projects may wish to bring forward new projects centered on the significant changes to our energy system and innovations that deliver local benefit whilst supporting the local electricity network during the transition to Distribution System Operator. Projects which make the most of these changes and innovations will be important to allow others to learn.

We've put together some themes and examples to help rural businesses here

Applicants should discuss any potential project proposals with the local CARES Development Officer and ensure interest is registered as early as possible.