There are “abundant” opportunities for solar and other renewables to bolster public coffers amidst funding cuts, a new report from Baroness Jenny Jones has claimed.

Released yesterday, Jones’ ‘Achieving Regional Energy Independence’ report found that devolved communities and their respective mayors could achieve energy independence and circumvent significant funding cuts by embracing renewables.

However Jones warned that devolution deals had “so far delivered little” in the way of low carbon technologies, with several deals – particularly those from Cambridge and Peterborough and the West Midlands – had failed to mention energy or climate change at all.

The report finds that the majority of the eight devolution deals struck so far do not include energy production or low carbon projects, with Jones also lamenting national government energy policy as “generally… disastrous”.

To that effect Jones has established a five point plan for metropolitan mayors to follow which would stimulate finance and help prioritise low carbon developments.

Those plans include the establishment of local energy companies like those set up by Nottingham and Bristol councils, the formulation of energy action plans with agreed budgets, and increased accessibility to clean energy through an online renewable energy marketplace similar to Good Energy’s Selectricity, previously known as Piclo.

Jones also wants to see local government pension funds divested and invested into local energy projects, simultaneously levering additional investment from local residents similar to that seen in Swindon last year.

Jones said that setting up energy companies would make sense for metropolitan mayors considering their own energy consumptions.

“They [mayors] have access to finance through schemes like the government’s heat network, but they could also link up with pension funds interested in divesting from carbon fuels. The key thing is to start now so that these funds can make the most of the renewables revolution and build up over time to provide a long-term source of revenue for cash-strapped authorities.

“Cornwall is already trying to make the most of its geography with the creation of Piclo, the United Kingdom’s first online marketplace for local renewable energy. It connects businesses with energy generators in a peer-to-peer network, increasing demand for renewable energy and helping businesses trace and document their supply chain  If this scheme pays off, then the Metro Mayor should ready themselves to copy that success,” she added.

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