Sheffield PV set to double

Here’s some great news with benefits for Council tenants, the local economy, the city’s carbon emissions, and all Sheffield residents!

By taking advantage of the need for re-roofing works on existing Council homes, solar panels will be installed on up to 6,000 properties across the city. This will more than double Sheffield’s current PV capacity (PV is solar panels that produce electricity from light). Work is due to start in 2015 and will be completed by March 2019. Fitting the panels at the same time as carrying out necessary maintenance work means there will be no overall net cost. The Council will receive up to £30 million from energy companies in the form of feed-in tariffs, which will offset the costs of installation.

The scheme is expected to bring other benefits to the city:

  • The Council estimates that household bills for council homes where PV is installed will be reduced by an average of £200 per year.
  • Where PV is installed, carbon emissions per household will reduce by an estimated 32%. Over the city as a whole this equates to a reduction in CO2 of around 9,000 tonnes.
  • Sheffield’s local economy will also benefit from the multi-million pound investment brought to the city. It is estimated that 250 jobs will be created or maintained – these are climate jobs.

Quoted in the Council’s press release, Councillor Harry Harpham, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, said that the Council is “making properties more energy efficient to reduce bills and help people stay warm in their own homes.”

Further details are set out in the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan Cabinet Report. The HRA Business Plan 2015/16 went to Cabinet on Wednesday 14th January 2015 and will be submitted to the Full Council for approval at the meeting scheduled for 4 February 2015.

Sheffield Climate Alliance congratulates the council officers who have drawn up a plan for renewable energy that is achievable in these times of austerity, and the Councillors who have had the foresight to take this big step towards securing a low carbon future for us all.

We’ve got another question about how this initiative could be developed. Solar panels are only suitable for roofs that face towards the sun, ideally only between south-west and south-east. But everyone needs a well-insulated home that keeps out draughts and keeps heat in. The report to Cabinet shows that only a small budget is being allocated to external wall insulation. This seems shortsighted.

There are two steps to reducing the carbon emissions associated with running a home, as promoted by the Energy Saving Trust amongst others. First, reduce your energy consumption and then install renewable energy sources, such as solar PV panels. Without adequately tackling the first step, for example through a massive citywide home insulation programme, the Council risks diluting the potential benefits of PV installation.

For more information go to Sheffield News Room.