Edinburgh City Council is installing community-owned solar panels in 25 council buildings throughout the city.
The initiative, which is believed to be the largest community-owned urban renewable energy project in the UK, will see public buildings such as schools, leisure and community centres chosen to host the solar technology. The chosen locations will be announced later this year.
The energy generated by the installations will help to make future cost savings while reducing the capital’s carbon emissions by an estimated 855 tonnes a year, while the participating buildings will benefit from cheaper electricity from the solar panels, resulting in substantial savings.
Any surplus energy will be sold to the National Grid and profits made by the project will be reinvested locally through a newly-created Community Benefit Fund.
Vice-convener of transport and environment, Councillor Adam McVey, said: “This is fantastic news for Edinburgh and will bring long term environmental, social and economic benefits.
“Community energy co-operatives allow local people to play a part in building a greener, more sustainable environment whilst raising awareness more generally about the importance of being energy efficient.
“We are aiming to meet our target of reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and this project is an important step towards us achieving this.”
The project will be offering shares to individuals or organisations who want to invest in the initiative, with priority allocation given to Edinburgh residents.
Members of the co-operative will then receive annual interest on their investment (capped at 5%, increasing with RPI), with any surplus profit invested in the Community Benefit Fund. The project also believes that the solar panels will form a useful resource for educational projects to help engage pupils with environmental themes such as renewable energy. Real-time electricity generation information will be displayed on each of the buildings and be accessible to pupils online.
“2015 is an important year for climate change, with the world’s nations supposed to agree new global targets in Paris at the end of the year,” said Dr Richard Dixon, chair of the ECSC.
“Around the world local people are creating their own solutions to climate change by investing in local renewable energy schemes.
“The Edinburgh scheme is a winner all round because it will reduce climate emissions and provide cheap energy for schools and other council buildings. Local people will also get a decent return on any money they choose to invest.”
- Anyone interested in becoming members of the Co-op can register their interest via the ECSC’s website.