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South West Wiltshire Liberal Democrats

Solar roof for waste plant

August 15, 2014 8:47 AM

WC press release:

Work to install the largest single-roof local authority-owned solar panel system in the UK on the Northacre Resource Recovery Centre (RRC) in Westbury has been completed.

The 1,248 solar panels - covering an area equivalent to more than seven tennis courts - will generate 280,500 units (kWh) of electricity each year. This will help to power the mechanical biological treatment process which turns household waste into solid recovered fuel (SRF).

The benefits of the system will be annual bill savings and income from the feed-in tariff of more than £55,000, as well as annual CO2 emission reductions of 148 tonnes. Over 20 years the savings are expected to exceed £1.5 million, with CO2 emissions reduced by 2,720 tonnes.

Crucially for a plant such as Northacre with a high energy requirement, the unit price of electricity produced by the panels over the system's 25 year life is significantly less than the rate for grid supplied electricity.

Toby Sturgis, cabinet member for waste said: "As a council we are committed to finding sustainable solutions to our energy requirements as well as cutting costs where possible so more can be spent on frontline services. This is an ideal opportunity to use renewable energy to power a site which uses innovative technology and I'm delighted that we are leading the way in doing this."

Mike Webster, group director for Hills Waste Solutions, the company that owns and operates the Northacre RRC under a 25-year contract with Wiltshire Council, said: "Investing in energy security is an important step and we are pleased to have been involved in the procurement process with the council. The next step for Hills will be to look at securing more local solutions for the SRF, ideally to generate energy which could be utilised in Wiltshire. At present the SRF is sent to energy from waste facilities in other northern European countries."

End of WC press release

As concerns grow about the spread of solar panels on agricultural land (see) this project shows the way forward. In fact the best and cheapest option is to fit solar roofs during construction. We may not be far from the day when most new industrial units, and most new houses, have solar panels fitted instead of steel roofs or tiles or slates.