North East

Solar Power Solutions with Humshaugh Net Zero


NICRE is supporting Humshaugh, a parish near Hexham in Northumberland, to transition to net zero by working with Humshaugh Net Zero (HNZ) community interest company (CIC) which was formed by residents in 2020 to develop a whole community approach to sustainability.

Alongside work related to the HNZ carbon footprint calculator and home insulation, NICRE is supporting the CIC to take forward its pilot projects on solar power, including feasibility for a solar farm.


Following a pre-feasibility study which identified the potential for a small solar power farm to be installed within Humshaugh, NICRE supported HNZ to successfully apply for funding to progress this project.

The original work, funded by the North East Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), found that solar power was a ‘viable solution’ following a comprehensive independent review of low carbon energy generation options for Humshaugh. RCEF funded HNZ to conduct a more in-depth, ‘stage 2’ feasibility study, which supported HNZ to begin developing a solar power electricity generation facility. In July 2023, HNZ received planning permission for a solar farm, with public meetings planned for September 2023 to continue to take the project forward.

Conclusions and recommendations

This project clearly demonstrates how individuals within a community can come together to develop effective local and regional solutions to combat global problems, and how university-based centres such as NICRE can support them.

What is novel about this project is the way in which HNZ, and NICRE are working together to develop local solutions that can be scaled to regional, and, eventually, national levels. Importantly, HNZ took the initial lead, identifying challenges in their community and developing solutions. NICRE then provided a small amount of funding to help make these solutions a reality. This is truly bottom-up community development.

The collaboration evidenced in this project is important because the ‘grand challenges’ we face, including climate change – this project’s focus – cannot be addressed by community organisations or institutions working in isolation. Finding effective solutions will require organisations from all sectors to come together and pull in the same direction, sharing resources, knowledge and skills.