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'The Northern Renewable Powerhouse': How councils in the midlands & north are leading the way in green energy

Posted by Sam Tonge on 9 April 2018 at 11:51 am

It’s fair to say that 2017 contained many a green milestone in the UK’s journey towards greener forms of energy. It seems that now is the ideal time to mention that it is no longer solely the responsibility of households to make the leap to sustainable energy. An increasing number of local authorities and communities are waking up to the societal, financial and environmental benefits of renewable power. We recently shared with you an exciting grassroots energy project in Buckinghamshire which is using income generated from solar PV to fund initiatives to tackle fuel poverty and increase leisure opportunities in the community. We also highlighted the reputational benefits for small businesses that are considering adopting green energy. 

With local elections just around the corner, it’s important to ask whether or not our local councils are making the most of the financial and political benefits renewable energy has to offer? In Nottingham, it turns out they are! We’re delighted to hear that Nottingham City Council recently revealed its largest solar PV scheme yet, which is expected to generate over one million kilowatt hours of solar energy this year – enough to power over 300 typical domestic homes!

At the forefront of Nottingham’s green energy innovations lies the Harvey Hadden Sports Village, the home of the UK’s first publicly owned ‘solar car park’. This innovation on the classic car port means that vehicles are protected from direct sunlight, low-carbon electricity is generated and the Feed-in-Tariff provides income for the leisure centre – a triple threat!

The solar PV array consists of 448 panels on a carport covering 40 bays. Although it will only provide 10% of the sports centre’s energy needs, electricity from the sun will now save the centre (and the public purse) a whopping £20,000 a year on energy bills!

However it seems that the Council aren’t stopping there. A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) boiler, a smart hot water system and LED lighting throughout the site mean the leisure centre will now make an enormous saving of over £40,000 and 185 tonnes of CO2 each year. What’s more, Nottingham City Council’s very own Energy Projects Team delivered the project in-house, saving money and providing local employment opportunities for those seeking to develop knowledge and skills in sustainable building technologies.

With unprecedented funding cuts to local authorities of 54% being implemented between 2010 and 2020, councils this year are looking at how they can continue to provide services to the communities they serve.

Warrington Borough Council has recently announced a £5.25million capital investment to provide solar PV panels to council 1,500 properties and three sheltered housing schemes, meaning tenants will save around £233 per year on their energy bills. This is in addition to the Council recently buying its own solar farm in Gloucestershire, in order to meet its own future energy requirements.

It’s extremely encouraging to see some local authorities leading the way in terms of generating energy from sustainable sources. Not only does this provide a blueprint for which others can follow suit, but it also benefits residents, businesses and the environment alike.

Has your local authority been involved in any exciting or innovative green energy projects? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below. On the other hand, do you feel like your local authority could put more focus and investment into renewables? Write to your Council leader or even your MP, to let them know your thoughts. With the 2018 Local Government Elections just around the corner, now is the time to make your voice heard and your vote count, whatever it might be.



Image credit: My Nottingham News and EvoEnergy.


About the author:

Sam has contributed to our blog since 2016 and previously worked for the National Energy Foundation.

He became interested in green energy after completing a degree in Geography (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London. 

Sam is passionate about renewable energy and is committed to spreading the word about the role it plays in delivering environmental sustainability. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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