photo by Tom Chance (telex4 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Britain’s energy secretary Chris Huhne has lifted the ban on local authorities selling back surplus electricity into the national power grid.

The plan is to encourage local councils to generate their own renewable energy by installing solar panels and wind turbines on council owned property, including both homes and public buildings. Any extra electricity can be sold back to the grid and provide much needed income to local authorities.

From an article in the Guardian:

At present only 0.01% of electricity in England is generated by local authority-owned renewables. In Germany the equivalent figure is 100 times higher.

The hope is that the scheme would also help the UK meet EU commitments to produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources.

Renewable sources that local British governments might benefit from are not limited to just wind and solar.

From a piece in the Telegraph:

Councils that invest in anaerobic digesters or incinerators, that generate energy from waste, will not only reduce the amount of waste going to landfill but make money. Local authorities in coastal areas could even install wave machines or tidal power in the future.

In related news, the UK government also plans to have all new homes powered by a renewable energy plant starting in 2016.

Developers whose properties fail to meet new zero carbon standards will pay into a fund to help build green power plants to meet the energy needs of the new homes.

The British housing minister is quoted in an article in the Independent:

We are committed to being the greenest government ever, and an essential part of that is to ensure that all homes in the future will be built without emitting any carbon. This announcement is an important and very significant step in that direction because for the first time we have described in detail how developers might be expected to achieve zero carbon, by connecting developments to local energy schemes.

The conservation charity WWF has praised the planned levy against developers.