Rules that will come into force next week will mean Bristol council can start making cash from their green energy projects.
The laws, introduced by DECC on 27 July 2010 mean local authorities are no longer restricted from selling renewable electricity into the national or local network.
Bristol already has schemes in the pipeline that will now benefit from this change including two 2-3 megawatt wind turbines off the Severn Estuary, on council land, in the Avonmouth Industrial Area.
Bristol City Council Cabinet Member Gary Hopkins said:
“This is very welcome news and means that we can move ahead with our turbine project as planned. Wind turbines will be a boost to renewable energy production in the city, providing us with a localised energy supply.
“But it also makes good financial sense, with any profits made earmarked to fund other carbon reduction projects in the city.
“We also have a whole series of small scale plans, including encouraging energy generation at schools which we can now progress as a result of this excellent announcement.
Secretary of State The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP said:
“For too long, Whitehall’s dogmatic reliance on ‘big’ energy has stood in the way of the vast potential role of local authorities in the UK’s green energy revolution.
“Forward thinking local authorities such as Bristol have been quietly getting on with it, but against the odds, their efforts frustrated by the law.
“I’ve taken the early step of overturning the ban on local authorities selling renewable electricity to the grid.
“I’ve today written to all council chief execs urging them to take advantage and lead a local energy revolution.
“This is a vital step to making community renewable projects commercially viable, to bring in long-term income to benefit local areas, and to secure local acceptance for low carbon energy projects.”
Notes for editors
Bristol City Council has been investing in renewable energy for several years and has already invested about £3m in a portfolio of 14 biomass boilers generating renewable heat from the city’s wood waste from parks, street trees and other sources. It is planning to invest up to £9m to install up to 6 MegaWatts of wind turbines on a former oil storage tank site on the shores of the Severn Estuary. The City Council has already secured planning permission after undertaking extensive environmental assessment to ensure the development would not affect the internationally important bird habitats of the estuary.
Bristol’s wind turbines will be wholly owned by the City Council generating revenue for the council and helping them meet their carbon reduction commitment. It is expected that the turbines will generate a rate of return on investment of at least 15% and will meet about one fifth of the Council’s total electricity needs, significantly reducing their carbon footprint.
At present only 0.01% of electricity in England is generated by local authorities, despite the scope that exists to install projects on their land and buildings.
In one of the first actions of the coalition government, a ban on local authorities selling renewable electricity, dating back to 1976, will end on 18 August. This will open up the full benefit of renewable energy incentives such as the feed-in tariff.