The government has allocated £2.1m for renewable heat network projects across England and Wales to help local councils recycle excess heat from industry. Twenty-four local authorities, including Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle city councils, will receive a share of the funding designed to slash carbon emissions from the UK’s domestic heat sector. Climate Change Minister Greg Barker confirmed the latest funding round for councils, including awards to Bath and North East Somerset, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, as well as Cornwall and Devon. Westminster City Council, Camden, Hackney and Merton London Boroughs will also receive a share of the funds. The money will be used to create heat networks that can transport heat recovered from industry or from waste to energy projects to provide heat and hot water to local homes and business.
Rochdale Borough Council could develop the UK’s first publically owned solar farm in an attempt to become Britain’s greenest local authority. Councillors have green-lit plans for officers to look into the benefits of installing a 250kW ground-mounted solar array on council-owned land. The Council has earmarked a one acre site of contaminated land behind the town’s leisure centre to host the array.
Nottingham is planning two large solar panel “canopies” on top of two car parks which will earn the City Council thousands of pounds. On Wednesday councillors approved plans for the first solar array at Queen’s Drive park and ride scheme which will generate £121,000 a year for the Council.
AROUND £1 million of council taxpayers’ money is to be spent setting up an energy company – the first of its kind in the country. More than 177,000 households across Notts could soon benefit from cheaper energy bills – saving up to £120 a year, it is claimed – when the new firm is set up by Nottingham City Council. The council says it will run its company on a non-profit making basis to do battle with “the big six” energy firms. The current plan is to launch the scheme next year – with a high-street shop, call centre and other staff leading to the project becoming a potential “million pounds plus” scheme.
Community renewables finance manager, Empower Community has received a £10.1 million loan from a UK institutional pension investor. The 20-year loan will be used to install, or acquire solar arrays for 2,300 homes and six commercial buildings in Sunderland. The arrays will also be managed by Empower Community. The 2,300 homes to benefit from the loan are part of social housing provider, Gentoo Group who provides community care, construction and solar installations. Thousands of tenants will be able to use free solar generated electricity in their homes, reducing bills by up to 40%.
Leicestershire County Council has revealed that it is considering installing solar panels on County Hall to help tackle escalating energy bills. The council has to cut £110 million from its budget by 2018 and has identified a range of energy-saving measures that it can implement to help meet this target. Currently the council’s energy bills cost £1.5 million every year, with just less than half of that total coming from County Hall alone. Due to the large energy consumption, the council is taxed £600,000 each year in carbon reduction payments. Under the new proposals, the council believes that it can knock £400,000 a year off its annual energy bills by installing a raft of new measures. Chief amongst the new measures is the installation of 600 solar panels on the roofs of buildings at County Hall, as well as other suitable council buildings.
A total of 350 homes at risk of fuel poverty have been given a helping hand by Knowes Housing Association after installing solar PV on houses in Clydebank. The solar installations are part of a £2 million programme of energy improvements for the housing association over the next two years. The improvements are expected to deliver annual energy bill savings of £70,000. The recent solar rollout saw 350 homes fitted with solar arrays sized between 2kWp and 4kWp, totalling 980kWp of capacity. All of the installations were completed by local installer Edison Energy.
THE SUNNIEST city in Britain is looking to make Bristol the Solar powered capital of the UK by 2020, says city business leader James Lancaster. The West Country’s biggest city recently hosted a three-day conference for solar energy suppliers, installers, and where manufacturers held advice stands on how local businesses can install 1GW solar photovoltaic technologies. The event was organised by the Bristol Solar City initiative and launched by the City Mayor, George Fergusion – as part of the wider Big Green Week festival. A specially constructed ‘Solar Pavilion’ on College Green was set up with a solar powered stage for talks and music, as well as the Solar Hub Exhibition and workspace where local businesses, city organisations, community groups, and homeowners could learn more about solar energy, efficiency savings, and long-term sustainability. James Lancaster, chairman of Bristol Solar City, said: “While an ambitious task Bristol is well placed to meet the challenge. Bristol has shown itself to be a leader in sustainability and renewable technologies; we’ve been in the top five of the UK’s Greenest cities for the last six years and are shortlisted to be European Green capital 2015. Bristol is also the sunniest of the UK’s major cities, we have a reputation for making things happen in our communities.”
Southampton City Council has awarded a £30 million deal to outsourcing company MITIE to deliver more than 2,000 energy efficiency improvements under the Energy Company Obligation (Eco). The 18 month contract will see MITIE install Eco measures for council tenants and private households. Under the deal, MITIE will also be responsible for the delivery of a district heating scheme for the Thornhill Estate, which will involve more than 1,100 properties.
A major overhaul of street lamps across the city will save millions of pounds and help show Edinburgh in a better light, it has been claimed. Radical plans have been drawn up to replace dull sodium bulbs with bright LEDs as part of a £30 million project to bring the Capital’s street lights into the 21st century. The energy-efficient bulbs will save nearly 40 per cent on the £2.97m spent each year illuminating the city and are likely to offer even future savings with energy prices expected double in the next decade. It is understood lighting inside tenement stairwells – paid by the public purse and costing £800,000 a year – may be given an upgrade as LED bulbs would be installed across 14,000 tenements. The roll-out comes after a successful trial in Saughton Mains and Gilmerton Dykes, where 271 lights were upgraded. The change received an 80 per cent public approval rating. To date, a £2.1m interest-free loan has been secured to transform 6000 street lights, but environment chiefs are targeting a city-wide roll-out ultimately costing around £30m.