Council extends solar panel retrofit

Wirral Council has set aside £3m to install photovoltaic solar panels on 30 buildings across the borough as part of its target of reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2025.

The council said it expects to see a return on investment over many years as savings in both energy costs and CO2 emissions are realised.

It is hoped that there will also be an additional benefit to the local economy in that switching buildings over to solar power will provide employment opportunities to local people within Wirral's emerging low carbon industry.

The council is currently seeking bids from installation companies with the selection process using a 70:30 scoring ratio for price to quality. The deadline for expressions of interest is midday 31 January.

The Cheshire Lines Building in Birkenhead was the first council building to install solar panels to allow it to generate its own electricity.

At the same time as announcing the investment to solar energy for its own buildings, the council has put more money into a fund that provides grants to community groups to carry out work on their own buildings that will make them more energy efficient. The Community Energy Efficiency Fund will be boosted by £57,000, meaning total available will be £110,000 in 2011/12. These funds will be allocated to Area Forums for them to recommend to Cabinet appropriate schemes for approval of grants of between £2,000 and £4,000. Grants can be used to help groups introduce a range of different energy efficiency technologies, including building insulation, heating and lighting upgrades and IT energy efficiency improvements.

Cllr Brian Kenny, cabinet member for environment, said: "By helping community groups to invest in energy-efficient technologies the scheme will help to reduce energy costs, climate change levy payments and the impact of climate change.

"Microgeneration power is something that the council wants to see more of across the borough and is leading the way with this significant financial commitment to making our buildings more energy efficient and it is hoped that more businesses and organisations will look at it too. Not only does it reduce the amount they will have to pay out for energy and create an income by generating surplus energy when the building is not being used, it will also help reduce carbon emissions, which the council is committed to doing."

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