SOLAR panels are to be installed on 25 publicly-owned buildings throughout the Capital under a fresh agreement with community leaders.
The city council will work in partnership with the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC), supported by Energy4All, to deliver what is believed to be the largest socially-owned urban renewable energy project ever undertaken in the UK.
Schools, leisure centres and community facilities are set to become solar panel sites amid hopes the technology will generate “significant” environmental and social benefits.
It is also expected that installation will ensure cost savings while reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by an estimated 855 tonnes a year.
Work is currently underway to identify suitable sites and selected locations will be announced at a later date.
Environmental leaders today hailed the scheme and said it would have a positive impact on public services.
Dr Richard Dixon, ECSC chair, said: “2015 is an important year for climate change, with the world’s nations supposed to agree new global targets in Paris at the end of the year. Around the world local people are creating their own solutions to climate change by investing in local renewable energy schemes.
“The Edinburgh scheme is a winner all round because it will 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.”
Project organisers said shares would be offered to organisations or individuals who want to invest, with priority allocation given to Edinburgh residents.
It is understood many of the host buildings will be schools, enabling solar panels to become educational tools helping pupils engage with environmental themes such as renewable energy.
Each device will also feature a real-time electricity generation display, which will be visible on buildings and accessible to pupils online.
City chiefs said the roll-out would mean a step change in the Capital’s relationship with energy.
Councillor Adam McVey, transport and environment vice-leader, said: “This is fantastic news for Edinburgh and will bring long-term environmental, social and economic benefits.
“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.”
He added: “We are aiming to meet our target of reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and this project is an important step towards us achieving this.”