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Five councils across Manchester win funding for pioneering renewable energy project

Energy Systems Catapult and five local authorities in Greater Manchester have won funding for a pioneering clean energy project – that will develop 10 renewable schemes across the city – and create a blueprint that can be replicated in other regions across the UK aiming for Net Zero carbon emissions.

Unlocking Clean Energy in Greater Manchester (UCEGM) brings together five local authorities that have declared a “climate emergency” – Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, and Wigan.

The 3-year £17.2m project – led by Energy Systems Catapult and part-funded with £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund – will capitalise on under-utilised council-owned sites and buildings, to develop:

  • 10 Megawatts of solar PV and hydro-electric generation,
  • battery storage,
  • electric vehicle (EV) charging, and
  • smart energy management systems.

The projects planned include solar farms at Chamber House farm in Rochdale and Kenyon Way in Salford, three rooftop solar schemes in Stockport and a rooftop solar scheme at Makerfield Way in Wigan.

Energy Systems Catapult will focus on the development of innovative new business models to maximise the value from the electricity generated, for example by taking advantage of regulatory changes, or utilising flexibility between clean energy assets distributed across the city as part of Manchester’s emerging Local Energy Market.

Richard Halsey, Capabilities Director at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “This project represents the opportunity to create a blueprint that is replicable and can help delivery of smarter cleaner local energy systems, minimise costs and carbon emissions.

“It will deliver new renewable energy generation on under-utilised public land.  It will incorporate energy storage and electric vehicle charging using digital systems to better align variable renewable generation to meet future local energy demands.

“Finally it will develop innovative business models that can unlock private sector investment and grow local businesses.”

The UCEGM project is an example of how the Greater Manchester districts are collaborating to deliver the regions aspiration of reaching zero carbon by 2038. The outputs delivered will account for 22% of the Greater Manchester 5-year environment plan energy generation target.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport for Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has been bold in setting out our vision to become a zero carbon city by 2038. This is not an easy target, but as a Council we feel it is the right one, not only for our residents, but for the long term prosperity of Greater Manchester.

“As set out in our Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25, the Council has committed to halving its emissions by 2025 and we will continue to play an active role in the Manchester Climate Change Partnership to address the urgent need to create a cleaner and greener Manchester.”

Councillor John Blundell, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business, Skills and Employment at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The planned solar farm at Chamber House will generate 4,500 megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough energy to power 1,250 homes, or 1.4 per cent of our borough’s homes – annually, over the next 30 years.

“This will make a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and tackling climate change and supports the important commitment we’ve made, alongside other GM boroughs, to make the city region carbon neutral by 2038, 12 years earlier than the national clean air target.

Councillor Derek Antrobus, Lead Member for Planning and Sustainable Development at Salford City Council, said: “This is a major step forward in Salford’s ambitions to help cut carbon emissions and reduce the scale of climate change. In the past decade we have reduced our carbon emissions by 50 per cent and become the first authority in Greater Manchester to convert its high street lights to LED. All the electricity for the council comes from renewable suppliers. All this helps to combat climate change and save money.”

Councillor Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council, said: “Stockport welcomes this fantastic opportunity to develop innovative roof top solar PV schemes on key properties at Merseyway and Stockport Exchange in the town centre and at our depot, Endeavour House. These schemes will be lead the way in how we produce local clean energy in the future, reducing our carbon footprint, and helping to tackle climate change.”

Councillor Paul Prescott, Cabinet Member for Environment at Wigan Council, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding in what will be another step in the council’s journey to becoming carbon neutral by 2038 or sooner.

“This money will go towards making our Makerfield depot greener and more sustainable and by installing solar panels to the roof we will generate sufficient renewable electricity to power the full operations, thus reducing our carbon footprint and delivering significant savings with all excessive electricity stored and used to charge our electric fleet.

“As a council, we want to be at the forefront of positive change when it comes to creating a greener and cleaner borough and investments like this will go a long way to accelerating our ambitions.”

Cllr Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for the Green City-Region, said: “This innovative new green energy project is yet another boost to our plans to become carbon neutral by 2038.

“Demonstrating the unique partnership working across our local authorities, we’re seeing buildings, land and locations being revitalised, optimised and future-proofed with a blend of renewable, clean energy generation. This initiative will also help to pioneer business models which will contribute towards reducing energy costs and carbon emissions.

“By piloting these unique business models nationally, we are showing that Greater Manchester is not only leading the way with our clean energy plans, but is the ideal place to invest in the future of innovation.”

James Johnson, Head of Regional Programme for the Local Energy North West Hub, said: “The Local Energy North West Hub has provided technical assistance and advised on the business case for UCEGM and is pleased to have supported a successful application for ERDF funding. The collaboration is a strong example of public sector organisations working together to deliver projects that support challenging carbon reduction targets. These local energy schemes will demonstrate innovation in public ownership of renewable energy assets on low value land to supply council building and will be an example to other institutions.”

More details

  1. The project is receiving up to £8,616,721 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit European Growth Funding.
  2. The UCEGM project delivers and implements actions and priorities from the Local Industrial Strategy and the Greater Manchester 5-year Environment Plan, and it will contribute towards the 2024 goals set out within the Whole System Smart Energy Plan for Greater Manchester.
  3. The City Region will benefit from the installation of 10 MW of additional clean energy generation capacity, which will account for 22% of its 5-year target for increasing local renewable electricity generation.
  4. The inclusion of battery storage will help ensure that some of this additional capacity is flexible and will contribute to City Region’s target to add 45 MW diverse and flexible electricity supply to the region by 2024, to help meet more complex supply needs.
  5. The annual CO2 saving of 3,134 tonnes will help progress towards Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s aspiration of carbon neutrality by 2038.

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