Cost-saving council looks to the sun

SOLAR POWER: Left to right, Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond and climate change officer Paul Hurwood on the roof of Bryan Hanson House with one of the photo-voltaic panels

SOLAR POWER: Left to right, Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond and climate change officer Paul Hurwood on the roof of Bryan Hanson House with one of the photo-voltaic panels

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HARTLEPOOL BOROUGH COUNCIL is turning to solar power to save money and help the environment – and is urging residents to follow their lead.

The council is installing 42 separate photo-voltaic panels on the south-facing roof of one of its main buildings, Bryan Hanson House, off Lynn Street.

The scheme is being funded with the help of the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP) and will cover a proportion of the building’s day-to-day power needs.

Under the terms of a Government initiative, the council will also be paid by its energy supplier for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated by the panels and there will be opportunities to sell surplus energy back to the National Grid.

Paul Hurwood, Hartlepool Borough Council’s climate change officer, said it will earn the council “vital income” and has urged people in the town to consider the merits of installing photo-voltaic panels on their own properties as they can also benefit, and to contact him for more information.

He said: “We will receive 36.1p for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated for the next 25 years.

“Given that the photo-voltaic panels have the potential to generate around 8,000kw hours per year – enough to power a laptop continuously for 14 years – we stand to receive nearly £3,000 a year, as well as receiving free zero-carbon energy that will be used on-site.

“We will also get a smaller additional amount for any surplus energy that we sell on.

“The use of the panels will also help to reduce the council’s carbon footprint.

“They will reduce CO2 emissions by around four tonnes – enough to fill the swimming pool at the Mill House Leisure Centre four times over.”

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said plans are already under way to see if other council buildings will be suitable for the panels.

He said: “The council is always looking for new and innovative ways of improving efficiency and generating income and this initiative has tremendous potential.

“As well as installing panels at Bryan Hanson House, we will also be looking at the possibility of putting them on some of our other buildings.

“We have a long-standing commitment to the environment and the photo-voltaic panels are complementing work already carried out by our well-established internal carbon management group, Carbon Action Now.”

Anyone wanting to find out more about the benefits and costs of solar power can contact Mr Hurwood on (01429) 284276 or log on to www.energysavingtrust.org.uk