Please see below for a response from the Council to my question on support to community energy projects, such as those currently being explored in Earlsfield by the Community Renewable Energy in Wandsworth (CREW) project. If you would like to know more about CREW, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crew-coop.London
Question to the Cabinet member for Community Services
What measures are the Council taking to support community-led responses to the twin challenges of energy and climate change – in response to the UK Government’s Community Energy Strategy published earlier this year? Specifically, how is the Council championing and supporting the development of community-owned energy projects, such as those currently being explored by Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth with residents and local businesses in Earlsfield?
The Council will continue to consider the viability (both financially and otherwise) of renewable energy scheme options, including community collaborations, as regards delivering best outcomes for both the Council and those that it represents.
There are a number of issues associated with community-led schemes involving Council-owned premises that require careful evaluation and to date the general consensus is that the Council would wish to own the panels installed on its buildings outright to avoid any future issues regarding the maintenance of the roofs on which they would be sited.
The assessment of the viability of schemes involves consideration of a range of factors – including location, usage, cost avoidance, panel and installation costs, financing and Feed in Tariff.
Insofar as Council-managed residential estates are concerned we will consider any community energy schemes on their relative merits but to date none of the solar panel schemes suggested by community energy groups have been developed further owing to the issues around the future maintenance and control of our roofs.
Regarding the Earlsfield scheme, we have been approached by a community energy company with respect to a scheme to install photovoltaic panels on the roofs of the Henry Prince estate. This has not been taken forward as the blocks are not considered appropriate for such an installation and the Council would, in any event, wish to fully control the deployment of solar panels on the roofs of its managed stock rather than work with a third party.
However, I would stress that officers are happy to engage with people in the community about the scope for undertaking renewable energy schemes involving Council property where that proves viable.
Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in terms of meeting our energy needs. This is a welcome development and we are happy to make clear our commitment to sustainability by working to take schemes forward.
In more general terms, the Council is looking into other energy saving and eco-friendly initiatives including cavity wall insulation, triple glazing, the use of low energy light fittings in communal areas and the provision of “green roofs” on new build sites.