Technology: solar PV

Location: Canal View Primary School, Buckstone Primary School, and Oaklands School, City of Edinburgh

CARES funding: up to £108,000 innovation grant

Date installed/operational: July 2021


In 2016, Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC) developed a community project that saw solar PV arrays installed across 24 public buildings owned by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC).

The project has been a huge success, with each site producing more than their initial estimated generation in the first year of operation. The electricity generated also provides an income to ESCS, a proportion of which is allocated to its Community Benefit Fund, which is focused on sustainability and alleviating fuel poverty. Since 2016, ECSC has added an additional six sites.

Project aims and objectives

ESCS wanted to maximise the solar generated electricity at a selection of sites by installing battery storage. The batteries would ensure that more solar generated electricity is used, improving the efficiency of each site, as well as reducing their carbon footprint. The project would also provide grid services to assist the development of a smart local energy system.

ECSC has an agreement with CEC for the purchase of any solar generation electricity used on site. The additional storage will generate further income in sales, as well as from the additional supply it will provide to the grid. All of the additional income generated will go into its community benefit fund.

ECSC received funding from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) to part pay for the battery installation.

Outcomes and achievements

ECSC appointed Changeworks to carry out a survey of its sites. After some high-level evaluation, six sites were fully surveyed and three were selected for installation of the batteries. The three sites chosen were Canal View Primary School, Buckstone Primary School, and Oaklands School.

A total of 156kWh of battery storage has been installed at the three school sites. A full monitoring and evaluation process will take place over the next year to evaluate its success.

There are many expected benefits from adding electrical storage to the three sites.

  • More locally generated electricity will be consumed at all three sites, reducing the amount of electricity imported from the grid.
  • By reducing the amount of electricity imported from grid, each site will lower its carbon footprint and improve its energy efficiency.
  • The batteries will be able to be aggregated with other storage sites to be remotely controlled and could provide services to the national grid such as fast frequency response (FFR) and demand side management (DSM) in the future.
  • The increased sales of solar generated electricity, together with the grid service, will increase the ECSC’s revenues. These additional monies will be allocated to the community benefit fund.
  • The project’s monitoring, evaluation and reporting will increase awareness of the benefits of installing electrical storage alongside renewable generation.

battery storage

Lessons learned

A spokesperson from ECSC said:

“The project monitoring is not yet complete, so we will have to see what lessons we finally learn. However, we hope to learn lessons on the following issues:

  • whether the current technology fully meets the needs of a project of this nature, and whether alternatives need to be explored in future
  • whether investment in storage represents value for money
  • what lessons can be learned about timing and when best to develop, and possibly roll out, more storage technology
  • what lessons can be learned about working in partnership with local government.

Visit Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative’s website for more information.