COUNCIL chiefs are to consider rolling out a major new scheme to install solar panels in council homes across Edinburgh.
A new feasibility study will be carried out into fitting advanced solar photo voltaic panels on houses and flats, along with schools, offices and care homes.
The proposed scheme is part of the UK Government’s Feed-In Tariffs project to make the average home more sustainable.
Under that scheme, families with a three or four-bedroom house can expect to save nearly £1000 in bills, as excess electricity generated is sold back to the grid.
The city council said it was at an early stage but that radical steps were needed to meet the target of cutting carbon emissions in half by 2020.
If an average household, a three or four-bedroom house, installed solar panels that generate electricity, they could be paid £836 a year tax-free.
Remaining electricity costs would therefore be reduced from £450 to £300, saving £150, and the total benefit would be £986 per year.
Alongside plans for council homes, local authority chiefs will consider installing solar panels on schools, offices, and care homes to cut bills and generate extra revenue.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for the Lothians, welcomed the proposal, but said that she would like to see the scheme be community-run.
She said: “This is a fantastic project and a step in the right direction, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if Edinburgh’s residents benefit environmentally, socially and financially, and not just go to the nearest multi-national and ask them to take over the project?
“Kirklees Council [in West Yorkshire] have been doing this for years and have estates of solar-powered homes.
“There, any unused electricity goes back into the grid, and any profit isn’t just going into a multinational’s purse.
“If you look at the residents who have got together in Portobello to promote the community wind turbine, we need to adopt that kind of model.”
Although there is currently no timescale for the scheme, the council has asked to hear from private sector firms by next month so it can decide which way to progress.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, environment leader for the Edinburgh City Council, said: “The council are currently looking at a range of innovative ways to help us reduce our impact on the environment, with the opportunity for solar panels on council buildings being one of these.
“We are in the very early stages and are still considering the feasibility of such a scheme.
“However it is important that the council takes proactive steps to cut current carbon emissions in half by 2020.”