A project which will see over 2,000 council tenancies across Babergh and Mid Suffolk fitted with solar PV arrays has started this month.

The 5.5MW solar project is thought to be the largest social solar scheme undertaken by a council in the UK to date. Mid Suffolk District Council and Babergh District Council estimate that the project will net the council around £5 million in feed-in tariff payments over the next 20 years. Tenants in the properties are expected to save approximately £300,000 per annum – a total of almost £13 million over 20 years.

Councillor Marilyn Curran, Mid Suffolk District Council’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health said: “This scheme represents great benefits for everyone. Residents will be able to enjoy the use of free electricity during the daytime and reduced energy bills overall and both councils will receive an income through selling the surplus back to the grid.

“This will also generate vital funds for both councils which will help us deliver positive outcomes for our communities as well as reducing fuel poverty and cutting carbon emissions.”

Tenants in Park View in Botesdale are already benefiting from the first wave of solar arrays. Commenting on the project’s rollout, Councillor Jennie Jenkins, leader of Babergh District Council, said: “We are thrilled that work has now begun on this scheme which will not only generate valuable income for the Council and therefore benefit all residents, but it will also help many of our tenants to cope with the rising costs of energy prices.”

Jenkins also revealed that the councils will start to look at how they can extend the free solar scheme in the future.

Campbell and Kennedy has been appointed by Breyer Group, through the LHC Procurement Framework, to complete the installation of the solar project. Each property will receive a 2.5kWp array consisting of 10 x 250W modules. Campbell and Kennedy expects to complete the project within 15 months.

Gerry Kennedy, managing director at Campbell and Kennedy, described the project as “a  win-win” for locals, he said: “Not only do the tenants benefit but also the council will recoup its investment and generate an income to benefit all ratepayers.

“Based on a resident using only 50% of the electricity generated each household could save up to £150 or more per year. If you consider that over 2,000 systems are being installed and that the systems will continue to generate electricity for 25 years or more, you can quickly see that the councils will create some substantial savings on behalf of their residents.”