Bristol City Council has been granted almost £1m funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to support community energy projects across the city.
The funding (£885,000) is the result of a successful bid from the council and will be partly used to boost renewable energy programmes already being delivered during the city’s European Green Capital year.
The council will also use the funding to develop a national model for community energy, leading the way for other local authorities. As part of the model, Bristol will work closely with communities to develop a Local Energy Action plan and produce best practice toolkits, as well as host workshops and a national community energy conference in the city.
In terms of driving forward existing initiatives, helping local people to invest in, and benefit from, solar power will form a key part of the work.
Bristol City Council has already run a successful pilot scheme to trial such a programme which saw solar PV panels installed onto some of the council’s tenanted long-lease buildings.
As part of the pilot scheme the council enlisted community energy groups, such as the Bristol Energy co-op, to raise the funds for the panels and facilitate the installation. As a result, the community group funding the solar panels benefit from the Feed-In-Tariffs, and the tenants inhabiting the building enjoy cheaper energy bills and a lower carbon footprint.
So far 400 solar panels have been installed onto council-owned buildings and the ambition is to expand this further.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This is great news. Our community energy programme is a forward-thinking initiative which will deliver huge benefits for local people. As a council we’re looking at long-term solutions to make the city more resilient to changes in energy supply and become the most sustainable city in the UK.
“With this latest funding from DECC the work we’re doing in Bristol is hugely important as we’re shaping the national response to community energy. It’s an exciting prospect as we’re empowering communities and delivering projects which will create local jobs whilst taking us a step closer to decarbonising the UK’s power sector.”
As well as boosting solar projects in Bristol, the DECC funding will also be used to establish a Community Benefit Fund, which will be project managed by Bristol City Council.
Community groups across the city will be able to apply for support though the Community Benefit Fund, ensuring that tangible benefits of local renewable energy generation are spread widely across the city.