Thousands of new and existing homes are to be fitted with a range of low carbon technologies including integrated solar PV and battery storage systems as part of landmark funding agreement for the Swansea Bay area of Wales. UK and Welsh government ministers signed the Swansea Bay City Region (SBCR) deal on 20 March which secured £1.3 billion for the region, one of the biggest investments to ever be secured in Wales. Among the various programmes to be in initiated using the SBCR funds is the Homes as Power Stations project to be led by Neath Port Talbot Council.
The Isles of Scilly are to be used as a test hub for smart energy technology in a £10.8 million project backed by the EU and Hitachi. The project will see rooftop solar panels and new energy management systems installed on 100 council-owned homes, about a tenth of the islands’ housing stock, with the households receiving discounted electricity. Ten of the homes will also be fitted with batteries or other technologies to help manage lags between supply and demand. A subsequent phase of the Smart Energy Islands project is expected to see electric cars deployed on the archipelago, with their batteries also used to help manage supply and demand. By 2025, the project aims to cut electricity bills by 40 per cent, meet 40 per cent of energy demand from renewables and for 40 per cent of vehicles on the islands to be either electric or low carbon.
Stirling Council completed the 1,500th installation of solar PV on its housing stock earlier this week and paved the way for battery storage to follow its lead. The install was completed on a new build bungalow in Bannockburn earlier this week as part of a wider renewable investment scheme launched to alleviate fuel poverty and reduce the council’s carbon footprint. To date more than £8 million has been spent on delivering the solar rollout, and the council has now committed to invest an additional £4.25 million over the next two years to install solar on an additional 1,200 homes. And battery storage technologies could also feature in future installs should the results of an initial pilot scheme in 50 homes be deemed a success.
Seven primary schools in the Glasgow area are to be fitted with solar panels with a combined total capacity of 350kWp under plans by the city council to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020. Each of the schools will receive a 50kWp system to be installed by Campbell & Kennedy (C&K), which must design, install and connect the systems by the end of April 2017. A statement from Glasgow City Council said: “This project will enhance the council’s commitment to the sustainability and resilience of these schools whilst providing a practical teaching resource for pupils. “The 135 tonnes of CO2 that will be saved each year as a result of these installations demonstrates Glasgow City Council’s continuing aim in reducing our emissions by 30% by 2020.”
At a Warwickshire County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council supported proposals that would see an additional six solar farms installed across the county. The proposal is part of a larger scheme, which also sought to create a council-run energy company. The plans for the energy company were also backed by the cabinet and now need the support of the individual district and borough councils. If the energy company scheme is supported residents in Warwickshire could soon have an alternative to the ‘big six’ energy companies that supply gas and electric.
Camden Council has this week announced it has teamed up with Islington Council and Waltham Forest Council to deliver a pilot programme designed to reduce the fuel bills of residents at risk of fuel poverty. The ’24/7 Solar’ initiative is being part-funded by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and will utilise solar panels and energy storage systems to test the potential benefits of storing solar electricity to supplement a householder’s evening power use. The aim of the trial is to see if there is evidence that integrated solar and storage technologies can effectively reduce the energy bills of fuel poor households. The panels, ranging from 1.62kWp to 3.78kWp, are being tested using three different battery types from Maslow, Growatt and Sonnen, to compare performance during the lifetime of the project. Installations have already taken place at 41 low income households across the three boroughs, the local authorities said. Comparative data will be generated to assess the performance of each brand of battery storage set against key parameters such as installation, reliability and savings generated, the councils said.
Almost £700,000 has been raised over the opening weekend of a new solar bond offer from Swindon Borough Council, which is utilising the UK’s first green energy ISA to attract investment for the construction of the council’s second locally funded solar farm. The offer, which includes access to an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), was launched by Abundance Investment working alongside the local authority on 11 November and has attracted £685,179 in just a few days. Around two thirds of this (£450,000) is being held in the IFISA, which allows community members to invest directly into the 5MW solar farm, tax-free. The IFISA has been made possible following a government announcement that from 1 November, the savings account can include peer-to-peer investments such as debentures, allowing individuals to invest directly into businesses and projects.
Local Authorities and Energy: Building a Fairer Low Carbon Energy System. The latest report from No2NuclerarPower looks at a range of innovative local energy initiatives which show how Britain’s towns and cities are transforming efforts to create a cleaner, smarter and more affordable energy system, providing an alternative to the big utilities, and boosting their local economies in the process. The report looks at a range of different energy initiatives being carried out by local authorities around the country. The list – in alphabetic order – is not meant to be exhaustive, but hopefully it will inspire others to set up projects of their own. If local authorities can learn from each other, rather than starting from scratch, it will avoid common pitfalls and speed up progress towards a low carbon local renewable energy revolution.
Swindon Borough Council (SBC) is preparing to launch a second solar bond following the success of its first local authority led investment offer earlier this year, which closed a month early after raising almost £2 million. If approved at a council meeting on 19 October, Swindon’s second solar bond would fund a new 5MW solar farm on a council-owned former landfill site at Chapel Farm in Blunsdon. SBC says the offer would also be the first in the UK to allow investors to use the new Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) to give them a tax-free return. This has been made possible by a government announcement that from 1 November, the IFISA will include peer-to-peer investments such as debentures, allowing individuals to invest directly into businesses and projects. Speaking yesterday to the London Assembly Environment Committee during a session on the new deputy mayor’s plans for energy in the city, Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said: “The national framework now for solar is so difficult so the role of regions and local government has become extremely important to the stability and survival in some ways of this sector.”
London’s solar strategy will be published in spring 2017 as part of a wider environmental policy consultation to be released under the new deputy mayor for energy and environment, Shirley Rodrigues. Giving evidence this morning to the London Assembly Environment Committee, Rodrigues faced questions on her approach to energy in the capital less than two months on from her appointment by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan. In a session largely dominated by discussion over potential for solar in the capital – due in no small part to the presence of Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association – it was confirmed that the solar action plan would form part of the spring’s consultation. Naming solar among the Mayor’s priorities for energy policy in London, Rodrigues said: “We want to do more on renewable energy such as solar, looking at our solar strategy, rolling out more solar panels. “We’re looking at how much we can use the Greater London Authority (GLA) buildings and Transport for London (TfL) buildings to retrofit solar on to them so it’s very much on our minds.”