Leicestershire County Council has revealed that it is considering installing solar panels on County Hall to help tackle escalating energy bills. The council has to cut £110 million from its budget by 2018 and has identified a range of energy-saving measures that it can implement to help meet this target. Currently the council’s energy bills cost £1.5 million every year, with just less than half of that total coming from County Hall alone. Due to the large energy consumption, the council is taxed £600,000 each year in carbon reduction payments. Under the new proposals, the council believes that it can knock £400,000 a year off its annual energy bills by installing a raft of new measures. Chief amongst the new measures is the installation of 600 solar panels on the roofs of buildings at County Hall, as well as other suitable council buildings.
A total of 350 homes at risk of fuel poverty have been given a helping hand by Knowes Housing Association after installing solar PV on houses in Clydebank. The solar installations are part of a £2 million programme of energy improvements for the housing association over the next two years. The improvements are expected to deliver annual energy bill savings of £70,000. The recent solar rollout saw 350 homes fitted with solar arrays sized between 2kWp and 4kWp, totalling 980kWp of capacity. All of the installations were completed by local installer Edison Energy.
THE SUNNIEST city in Britain is looking to make Bristol the Solar powered capital of the UK by 2020, says city business leader James Lancaster. The West Country’s biggest city recently hosted a three-day conference for solar energy suppliers, installers, and where manufacturers held advice stands on how local businesses can install 1GW solar photovoltaic technologies. The event was organised by the Bristol Solar City initiative and launched by the City Mayor, George Fergusion – as part of the wider Big Green Week festival. A specially constructed ‘Solar Pavilion’ on College Green was set up with a solar powered stage for talks and music, as well as the Solar Hub Exhibition and workspace where local businesses, city organisations, community groups, and homeowners could learn more about solar energy, efficiency savings, and long-term sustainability. James Lancaster, chairman of Bristol Solar City, said: “While an ambitious task Bristol is well placed to meet the challenge. Bristol has shown itself to be a leader in sustainability and renewable technologies; we’ve been in the top five of the UK’s Greenest cities for the last six years and are shortlisted to be European Green capital 2015. Bristol is also the sunniest of the UK’s major cities, we have a reputation for making things happen in our communities.”
Southampton City Council has awarded a £30 million deal to outsourcing company MITIE to deliver more than 2,000 energy efficiency improvements under the Energy Company Obligation (Eco). The 18 month contract will see MITIE install Eco measures for council tenants and private households. Under the deal, MITIE will also be responsible for the delivery of a district heating scheme for the Thornhill Estate, which will involve more than 1,100 properties.
A major overhaul of street lamps across the city will save millions of pounds and help show Edinburgh in a better light, it has been claimed. Radical plans have been drawn up to replace dull sodium bulbs with bright LEDs as part of a £30 million project to bring the Capital’s street lights into the 21st century. The energy-efficient bulbs will save nearly 40 per cent on the £2.97m spent each year illuminating the city and are likely to offer even future savings with energy prices expected double in the next decade. It is understood lighting inside tenement stairwells – paid by the public purse and costing £800,000 a year – may be given an upgrade as LED bulbs would be installed across 14,000 tenements. The roll-out comes after a successful trial in Saughton Mains and Gilmerton Dykes, where 271 lights were upgraded. The change received an 80 per cent public approval rating. To date, a £2.1m interest-free loan has been secured to transform 6000 street lights, but environment chiefs are targeting a city-wide roll-out ultimately costing around £30m.
A 900kW wind turbine is being installed on the most north westerly point of the Isle of Barra. It is expected that after a few years the revenue from the turbine will be able to be used for developments on the island. Barra now joins the group of islands with wholly community-owned wind turbines from Gigha in the south, through Tiree, South Uist, Lewis to the Orkney Isles.
Hartlepool Borough Council is proposing to replace all of Hartlepool’s 13,644 street lights with LED luminaires in a 12-month scheme. The council says the scheme, which it is estimated will cost £5 million, will save the authority between £400,000 and £550,000 a year on its energy bill.
Community energy projects can also stimulate energy efficiency measures. Newnham Croft school in Cambridge installed PV after raising £10,000 with Solar Schools. With the backing of the entire community the project has since been able to carry out a whole host of energy efficiency measures, including installing insulation and efficient lighting, initiatives they had been trying to get off the ground for many years. Environmentalism is now woven inextricably into the school’s image of itself, from the pupils to the staff and the management team. Microgeneration turns the current electricity system paradigm on its head. Instead of being passive recipients of electricity, schools, homes and businesses that generate their own become actively engaged in the dynamics of energy production and consumption.
Doncaster Council has awarded a contract to Anesco to manage the installation of external wall insulation in 100 privately-owned ‘priority group’ homes. The upgrades will be completed at no cost to homeowners or the local authority, with funding being provided through the national Priority Group Flex (PGF) scheme. PGF funding is available to low income private sector households where the occupier is in receipt of certain benefits. The upgrades to the Doncaster homes are expected to bring annual savings for residents of around £475 per year, helping to lift many households out of fuel poverty.
Some of the oldest and most rundown housing in the city is undergoing a dramatic facelift. Just over 200 Victorian terraced homes in west Hull are having external solid wall insulation installed. The facelift work is being carried out by Hull City Council with a mix of local and national government funding, even though the properties are still privately owned.