Reading Borough Council is considering installing solar panels on the town’s schools and council buildings in an attempt to tackle escalating energy costs. On Wednesday the council’s cabinet’s met to discuss the feasibility of the £5 million solar scheme.
The council’s energy expenditure has tripled over the last decade and to prevent these costs spiraling further out of control, councillors are seriously considering diversifying the town’s energy portfolio. It is estimated that schools alone will be in line for average annual savings of £3,000 with the help of solar; around 30 schools have already expressed an interest in the scheme.
“This is a fantastic initiative and another step towards Reading becoming a low-carbon town of the future,” Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead councillor for environment and climate change, said. “The ability to generate our own clean, low-carbon energy will help to build a secure and sustainable future for the council.”
The local authority would recoup its initial £5 million investment over 10 to 12 years through a government scheme funded by the energy companies that would allow it to sell between £400,000 and £600,000 of electricity back to the National Grid each year.
Reading Council has also partnered with 10:10, an international carbon reduction organisation, which is launching a separate solar project in the town next month aimed at helping seven schools reduce their carbon footprint and raise funds to buy their own solar panels.
John Ennis, the lead councillor for education and children’s services, added, “Any building as large as a school can be very expensive to run, so help towards the cost of expensive energy bills is very welcome. As well as the huge energy and environmental benefits, children who have solar panels on their school roof will get to see how they work and learn about the benefits of renewable energy sources.”