Spelthorne Council has declared a climate emergency and is implementing a range of sustainable measures to reach net-zero. Reducing energy consumption across our buildings is a key part of tackling carbon emissions, and we have been exploring the potential of solar power on the roofs of our buildings for several years.
In early 2020, the Council commissioned a feasibility study, and our main operations depot at Ashford was identified as a great candidate for solar. Not only did this depot have a suitable roof, but it was also our second-highest consumer of energy; we felt this was an important opportunity to significantly reduce emissions from our building stock.
We were keen to move forward with the solar project at Ashford but didn’t have specific funding in place. Crucially, the Greater Southeast Energy Hub (GSEEH) and was able to provide support through their Clean Growth Fund pilot. GSEEH provided half the funding for the project, enabling us to move forward quickly.
After funding was secured, we went through a tender process, inviting PV contractors to bid and to demonstrate exactly what capacity they could install on the roof. We worked with the successful contractor on an array design that could generate 22,500 kWh annually. This represents a saving of 5.77 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
We shared the benefits of this installation through our group staff meetings and feedback has been very positive. It’s sparked discussion about further potential solar sites and even the benefits of installing solar panels on their own properties!
The solar array now supports a third of all electricity consumption at our Ashford operations depot, and we’re already working on a plan for solar installation on our ground maintenance building. We’re also constantly assessing the potential of our other sites as candidates for solar and other forms of renewable energy generation.
Understand your energy consumption – For local authorities or organisations looking to impact this sort of scheme, it’s important to understand where your highest energy consumption levels are right now. This information will maximise the impact of any renewable energy installations and energy reduction measures.
Identify opportunities early – Funding opportunities can come and go quickly, and it’s vital to have completed feasibility studies early, so that you can put together a business case easily. Many solar companies will do PV feasibility studies for free, and this is a great opportunity to gather information.
- Energy generated by solar panels.
- Reduction in energy bought from the National Grid.
- Reduction in carbon emissions.