As of today, UK councils will be able to sell renewable energy back to the national grid. Last week (August 9) Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne finally lifted the ban, meaning councils can now generate energy and earn profit from solar energy systems.

By utilizing the feed-in tariff rates, the government predicts that renewable energy generation on council buildings could be worth up to £100m per year to local authorities in the UK.

Cornwall Council’s Head of Renewable Energy, Tim German joined BBC 5’s “Wake up to Money” program this morning to discuss the potential renewable energy has for local councils, since Cornwall Town Hall already has 130 solar panels installed. German outlined that by installing solar on council buildings you can not only earn a profit from the country’s feed-in tariff, but also help offset other expenditures, such as council tax.

(Click play and slide to 28 minutes to listen to Tim German's comments)

Another council taking the government up on the offer of generating money from solar power is Oxford, which plans to install solar power on its historic Town Hall. Oxford councillors say covering the 19th century Town Hall roof in 21st century panels could net up to £10,000 a year, while using other council buildings could push that figure closer to £100,000.

The leader of the city’s Green group, David Williams, said, “There are companies that could come on to the scene within weeks as long as we can identify the locations. We could generate £10,000 from the Town Hall, but we have other big buildings like St Aldate’s Chambers that could also be used to generate electricity and money.”

However, while Williams is enthusiastic, he remains realistic about the financing needed for a project such as this, “Although the new Government may give us freedom to do this, they will be cutting our government grant and we need that money to install the power generation units.

“It will happen – the only question is whether it will be slow or fast.”

Williams met council chief executive Peter Sloman to discuss the proposals, and a group of senior officers led by director of city services Tim Sadler will be assessing the full potential of council-generated green power.

John Tanner, the council’s executive board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, said, “We are keen to take advantage of this, boost city coffers and help tackle climate change.”

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said, “We are already looking at the potential across all our buildings to install solar panels, generate electricity and capitalise on the feed-in tariff mechanism.”

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne wrote to council chief executives last week to tell them that the ban had been lifted. “This is a vital step to making community renewable projects commercially viable, to bring in long-term income to benefit local areas, and to secure local acceptance for low carbon energy projects,” he said.