Spotlight on solar panels

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SOLAR panels could soon become a common sight on the roofs of council-owned buildings if a new green scheme gets the go ahead.

Hartlepool Borough Council is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 124 tonnes a year and save money by installing photo-voltaic (PV) panels on some of its properties to generate electricity.

If approved, the local authority could save up to £36,000 a year in energy bills.

Council officers want to tap into Government funding that rewards organisations which generate their own renewable electricity.

It would also help the council achieve its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by more than 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

The proposals, which would enable the council to benefit from the Government’s “feed-in tariff”, will be discussed by cabinet members on Monday.

Senior councillors will be asked to consider two proposals; one would involve the council financing the installation of PV panels using up to £646,000 of prudential borrowing and repaying this loan from income generated by the scheme.

The other option would see the council granting a licence to a private operator to install PV panels on council buildings in return for an annual rent.

Officers are currently carrying out an assessment of council-owned buildings to see which would be suitable for the panels.

The review is considering a number of factors including the height of buildings, strength of the roofs, risk of vandalism and if there are any planning constraints.

A report to the meeting said: “If PV panels were installed on the buildings considered suitable it could reduce the council’s CO2 emissions by 124 tonnes a year which will contribute towards the council achieving its Covenant of Mayors commitment.

“It may have an additional positive impact by inspiring others in the borough to install sources of renewable energy which may be essential if Hartlepool is to achieve the carbon reduction target of 21 per cent by 2020.

“On the basis of initial planning assumptions the installation of PV panels on council buildings potentially provides an annual net saving of between £25,000 and £36,000.”

Cabinet members are due to meet on Monday, May 23, at 9.15am, at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.