Labour in its 2012 Edinburgh City Council election manifesto was to be a Co-operative Council. I am delighted as Chair of Edinburgh Sustainability Group to have played my part in agreeing a Community Energy Co-operative in Edinburgh. Community energy co-operatives allow local people to play a part in building a greener, more sustainable environment whilst raising awareness more generally about the importance of being energy efficient.
In Edinburgh we are aiming to meet our target of reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by 42% before 2020, and this project is an important step towards achieving this. It is hoped that this project will reduce carbon emissions by estimated 855 tonnes year. The Edinburgh scheme is a winner all round because it will also reduce climate emissions and provide cheap energy for schools and other Council buildings. Local people will also get a decent return on any money they choose to invest.
Community-owned solar panels are to be installed in 25 Council buildings throughout Edinburgh – 25 buildings such as schools, leisure and community centres will be chosen to host the solar technology, which will deliver significant environmental and social benefits.
The Council will work in partnership with the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC) – supported by Energy4All – to deliver the initiative, which will to be one of the largest community-owned urban renewable energy projects in the UK.
Buildings that are chosen to participate will benefit from cheaper electricity from the solar panels, resulting in substantial savings. Any surplus energy will be sold to the National Grid and profits made by the project will be reinvested locally through a newly-created Community Benefit Fund.
Shares will be offered to organisations or individuals who want to invest in the initiative, with priority allocation given to Edinburgh residents. Anyone interested in becoming members of the Co-op can register their interest via the ECSC’s website.
Members of the Co-op will receive annual interest on their investment (capped at five percent, increasing with RPI), with any surplus profit invested in the Community Benefit fund.
The panels will also be a useful resource for educational projects to help engage pupils with environmental themes, such as renewable energy. Each device will come with a real-time display of electricity generation which will be displayed on the buildings and accessible to pupils online.
This is evidence of the real difference our Co-operative Capital plans are making to the people of Edinburgh and show the benefits of City of Edinburgh Council being a Co-operative Council.