Solar Panels Helps Save £500,000 of Council Taxpayers Money

Staff from Cornwall Council have successfully arranged for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on more than 50 sites across Cornwall which will help save more than £500,000 of council tax payers’ money a year.

An ambitious programme to install solar photovoltaic panels on Council owned buildings by the end of March 2012 was originally approved by Members in September.  News that the Government was intending to reduce the Feed in Tariff on projects installed after 12 December was greeted with disappointment by the Council but instead of abandoning the project, Members took the bold decision to proceed and try to achieve as much as possible before that deadline.

The Council installed over a megawatt of solar panels on roofs  ahead of the deadline on 38 sites across Cornwall, equivalent to the power consumption of 600 houses, saving the Council and its schools over £100,000 every year on energy bills.   Panels will be installed on a further 14 sites over the next few weeks, bringing the total power generated to 1.3 megawatts, equivalent to almost 800 houses and generating savings of a further £30,000 a year.  The financial savings from the 52 sites together with the income from the Feed in Tariff equates to over half a million pounds per year.

This single project will save over 675 tonnes of carbon each year and is over a quarter of the planned output of the Kernow Solar Park.   Although the Solar Park project was recently put on hold, the Council hopes to continue both with this and with other solar projects as soon as the business case allows.

The solar panels will pay for themselves within just a few years through the Feed in Tariff.  The relatively low maintenance costs means that after this period they will provide income for the remainder of the 25 year Feed in Tariff at the same time as generating free energy for the Council’s buildings for the life of the panel.

This achievement, against a backdrop of uncertainty with the Feed in Tariff, is a tangible demonstration of the Council’s commitment to delivering renewable energy projects. This commitment, which forms a key element of both the Council’s Carbon Management Plan and the corporate Green Cornwall programme, has enabled the Council to make a significant contribution towards the Council’s renewable energy targets.  In context, this project will save the equivalent to 1.2% of the Council’s carbon footprint.

“I have strongly supported the Council's aims to develop innovative renewable energy projects and watched the progress of the Solar Photovoltaic panels with interest following the reduction of the Feed in Tariff” said Julian German, the Council’s portfolio holder for waste management, climate change and historic environment”.  “Where other councils simply abandoned their PV projects, Cornwall was determined to proceed and I am pleased that we installed over a megawatt of solar panels on the Council's buildings by the Government’s deadline. This has enabled us to achieve a quarter of what we had planned on the original Kernow Solar Park which was put on hold following the previous round of FiT cuts.

“This is an astounding outcome in the face of the challenges and I would like to congratulate all those involved in pulling out all the stops to achieve this success.  It demonstrates the commitment of Cornwall Council in putting Cornwall at the forefront of renewable energy.”

installation news, cornwall council,solar industry,solar digest,www.solardigest.co.uk