Council-owned wind turbine could be built in Hull as authority looks to set up £16m green energy project
City leaders in Hull are looking to turn the clock back over 70 years by exploring the idea of setting up a council-owned energy business.
The council last managed and supplied electricity across Hull in 1948 before it was nationalised.
Now councillors are set to examine the options around creating a new public energy company as part of a £16m package of green energy projects over the next three years.
If given the go-ahead, the ultimate aim would be reduced carbon emissions while recouping project spending through lower energy costs and selling power to the National Grid.
The new projects include proposals to build an onshore wind turbine and battery storage site in the city, installing more rooftop solar panels on council properties and building a large solar farm at a former landfill site in Bransholme.
Another project involves fitting a network of energy-generating solar canopies at council-owned car parks, including sites at leisure centres and the Priory Park park and ride bus facility.
The former McBride factory site in Sutton Fields is believed to be earmarked as potential location for a wind turbine after the council bought the site in 2019.
A series of in-depth feasibility studies into the projects are now being commissioned by the council to assess whether they are viable.
Each one will ultimately require further cabinet approval once the studies have been completed.
In a new report on the tendering process, the council’s director of legal services Ian Anderson said: “These initial feasibility stages will require extensive financial modelling, technical appraisal, knowledge of local constraints and the ability to examine a range of potential solutions in order to ensure the council achieves the best value option.”
Municipal or community-owned power utilities are more common in Europe than the UK.
In Germany, there are currently around 150 public companies known as Stadwerkes which manage basic services such as energy, water and district heating systems at a city or regional level..
In the UK, recent council-owned energy company initiatives in Bristol and Nottingham have suffered mixed fortunes.
Nottingham’s not-for-profit Robin Hood Energy closed in 2020 after five years while Bristol Energy was sold last year, although it continues as a brand of Together Energy which is part-owned by Warrington Borough Council.
Hull City Council finance director David Bell said: “These projects have the potential to make significant contributions to the council alongside the potential carbon benefits and for this piece of work the quality of work is paramount.”
Councillor Rosie Nicola, portfolio holder for environmental services, said: “We have a responsibility to act, that’s why we are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
“We will work with residents and communities to identify suitable green opportunities.
“The city and the region is becoming a world leader in green technology and renewable energy and , as a council, we are determined to support and reflect this..”
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