A new fund will offer loans and grants to community groups to develop local renewable energy projects. Businesses are being offered the chance to up their green credentials and to lower their energy bills by getting involved.
Bristol City Council launched the Bristol Community Energy Fund to business representatives from around the city at a breakfast event this morning. The group of around 40 businesses heard how sharing their rooftops, boilers and even land with local community groups would allow them to:
- Pay a cheaper rate for their energy and buffer their businesses from future energy price rises
- Give back to their local communities, creating jobs, opportunities and growth in the industry
- Reduce their carbon emissions, simultaneously boosting their environmental credentials and satisfying their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda.
The funding is being provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and will be made available through the council’s fund by providing:
- Loans to community energy groups to develop renewable technology projects
- Grants for other energy related community-scale projects.
Mayor George Ferguson said: “I am strong supporter of community energy projects which bring local business and individuals together to self-generate and save energy. In a couple of weeks I’ll be representing Bristol at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris where we will be discussing the major contribution the business and voluntary sectors can make to reducing carbon emissions.
“I would encourage you to think about making your roofs and land available. It does not only make good business sense, but also helps to put Bristol at the forefront of the community energy movement. We’re hoping to create a national best practice model in Bristol that can be rolled out across the UK and maybe even further afield.”
The initiative comes off the back of the council’s own positive experience of giving its roof spaces to community-owned solar PV installation projects. As the landlord of 40% of the land and buildings within the city, it has been able to support projects amounting to approximately 700kW capacity. Helping to continue community energy initiatives is an ongoing ambition of Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. The fund will help the council continue to support local sustainable energy development beyond 2015, despite expectations that existing central government support schemes will no longer be in place. The council will also act as a match-maker between businesses and community groups.
Those community groups and businesses interested in getting involved in Bristol’s community energy projects can get in touch via the fund’s website: www.bristolcommunityenergy.co.uk.