ARUN has won the race to install electricity-generating solar panels before Saturday’s deadline slashes generous subsidy payments.
The district council’s rooftop installation of 178 solar panels above Arun Civic Centre in Littlehampton was due to be switched on this week, cutting the local authority’s annual electricity bill by up to £4,000.
But more significantly, the panels will also earn Arun 39p for every KwH unit of power produced, compared with just 15.2p which will be paid to similar schemes under the government’s Feed in Tariff (FIT) in future.
The government originally set the deadline for December 12, just weeks after Arun decided to go ahead with the renewable power plant. But a series of legal challenges nationally resulted in the date being put back to Saturday, giving the council time to have its scheme in place.
A giant crane lifted the photovoltaic panels more than 20m up, onto the roof of the council’s headquarters, in Maltravers Road, last Tuesday.
Ferring company Kingsley Eco Solutions installed the panels. Thanks to the FIT payments and lower bills, they will pay for themselves in less than nine years, and save 20.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.
Arun also benefited from the continuing fall in the price of solar panels, the installation costing £101,000 instead of the original price of £162,000.
Councillor Dudley Wensley, Arun cabinet member responsible for green technology and council properties, said: “These panels bring benefits today and for the future by generating free electricity and reducing our carbon emissions.”