UK: Council to install 2,000 residential rooftops

British panel maker SunSolar Energy is supplying modules to a UK local authority as part of a plan to install 2,000 panels on council houses over two years.

Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, in West Yorkshire in the north of England, has committed GBP9.2 million ($9.7 million) to installing 1,000 panels this year and the same quantity in 2016 – although newspaper the Huddersfield Daily Examiner puts the total investment at GBP9.3 million ($9.85 million).

Module and LED lighting manufacturer SunSolar, which opened a 75 MW manufacturing facility at its base in Oldbury in the English West Midlands in April, is supplying the council with panels as part of the solar initiative, which has already seen 2 kWp systems installed on 36 houses in the Knowl Green area of Mirfield.

According to SunSolar, its panels have already surpassed their estimated efficiency by 9 per cent, meaning the council will secure payback on the investment within a decade.

Next 150 systems ready

SunSolar says the authority will shortly be installing the next 151 residential systems on council-owned homes in the Wellhouse Avenue and Greenfield areas of Mirfield, in Denby Dale and in Scholes, Holmfirth.

The Black Country-based manufacturer says the council is exploring expanding its solar installation scheme – one of the biggest local authority-funded programs in the UK – to non-residential buildings.

At a time when local authorities are placed under continual financial pressure by the reduction in funding from the UK government – with a reversal of the fiscal squeeze from London unlikely whoever wins May’s general election – solar could provide a path to savings in the long run.

The Daily Examiner report announcing council backing for the solar scheme in February revealed it had been agreed as part of an annual budget for the council which called for GBP69 million ($73 million) of cuts up to 2018, indicating solar investment in the UK may actually be driven by dwindling budgets because of the return on investment.