Three solar projects are among a tranche of community energy schemes to have been offered funding from Bristol City Council through an initiative aimed at encouraging local solutions for community energy challenges.

Twelve projects were selected and offered a total of £53,193 from the Bristol Community Energy Fund by a panel made up of representatives from across the city, including council representatives, local energy partners and community leaders.

One of the first projects to receive funding is being led by Bristol Playbus, a local charity that will add solar panels to its “Sensory Truck”, a mobile sensory environment for children with a disability or life-limiting illness.

The 200W system will allow the equipment on the truck to work without the use of diesel generators, improving the experience for the participants in the programme.

Katie Hanchard-Goodwin, project manager for the Bristol Playbus told Solar Power Portal: “We tend to run on batteries and a generator which given the nature of the project – it’s a sensory experience for disabled children – the fumes and the noise generated is just not conducive. We’ve had problems with batteries in the past so solar was the obvious solution to keep us self-sufficient and keep the noise down and make it pleasant for everyone involved.”

She added: “It seems like the obvious way for a charity to save money is to generate its own power. We don’t use a lot of power but we do use a lot of diesel to run our buses so to offset that we want to do out bit.”

Other projects to receive funding from the grant programme include solar panel education workshops run by Demand Energy Equality, which teach participants how to build their own solar-powered charging devices.

Community energy internships run by the Ambition Lawrence Weston will also use funding to support currently unemployed interns in a number of areas including household energy surveys and solar panel production.

The judging panel – chaired by Mareike Schmidt, energy service manager at Bristol City Council – chose the projects based on their potential to support local people in reducing their energy use and associated costs.

The city also continues to use the programme to build on its status as the European Green Capital in 2015 by encouraging community members to adopt wider use of renewable sources of energy.

“We’re working hard to create a community energy movement in the city – an inclusive approach to support and enhance the activities of the local energy scene. The role of community groups is so important in addressing the specific needs of particular groups and this is why we’re so pleased to see such a broad range of groups engaging with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through the Bristol Community Energy Fund,” Schmidt said.

The awarding of funds to these projects, which include energy efficiency initiatives and other education projects around the Bristol area, will be followed by a second round of funding in the coming weeks. Bristol City Council is encouraging projects that were previously unsuccessful to further develop their bids and apply again in addition to new applications.

The grant programme is targeted at not for profit organisations based and working in the Bristol area. Non-energy related groups are encouraged to apply to broaden the reach of energy projects to new communities, with applications already received from numerous community and equalities-led groups and even a primary school.

Bristol City Council has increased its engagement with both renewable energy and energy efficiency. It was recently ranked fourth in a list of over 100 local authorities and their approaches to energy efficiency, while a 4.2MW solar farm is being planned on land owned by the council.

The Bristol Energy Cooperation, which is taking the lead on the scheme, has also signed letters of intent for solar installations of almost 20 community buildings.

“I think Bristol generally is more open to green issues and renewable energy. There’s been a lots of community buildings in Bristol in the last year that have had solar panels on the roof and that’s what we’re looking at next,” Hanchard-Goodwin added.