Solar installation to cut shopping centre energy bills by a third

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A shopping centre in Hull is set to make considerable savings on its energy bills after installing around 1,100 solar panels as part of an efficiency drive across the whole site.

Two arrays totalling 280kW were completed in early December and are expected to provide around a third of the centre’s energy needs. According to Tony van der Vliet, deputy centre manager at St. Stephen's Shopping Centre, the site will use up to 95% of the energy generated by the installations despite being completed in time for the higher feed-in tariff export rate.

Describing the proportion of energy to be used on site, Van der Vliet said: "That's the most beneficial bit because it meant we weren't that fussed about the feed-in tariff."

The panels are expected to generate up to 30,000kWh a year, cutting the site’s utility bill by around a third. The installations totalled an estimated £300,000 investment from landlord British Land, but is expected to be paid back within ten years.

The solar arrays are the latest in a drive to cut operating costs at St. Stephen's Shopping Centre, which is also currently carrying out a lighting programme that will see £15,000 spent each year for four years on the installation of LEDs.

In addition, efficiency measures have led to a reduction of 75% in water usage since 2009, as well as reducing waste and energy consumption.

"When we first opened the site in about 2007/8, in the first full year we were using about 2.4 million kWh of electricity a year. We are down to about 870,000kWh a year now, so an incredible amount [has been saved],” Van der Vliet said.

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