Solar energy progress

Domestic and business solar PV installed capacity across the whole of B&NES has doubled since the council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and the rate of growth has significantly accelerated in 2021 and 2022.

This was announced to councillors while outlining the generation of renewable energy in Bath & North East Council buildings as part of the council’s net zero commitment.

Work to install solar panels and energy reducing measures, such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting, that help decarbonise council buildings has been set out to the Climate Emergency & Sustainability PDS Panelwhich met yesterday(October 10).

The panel was told there is an indicative area target of 300MW renewable energy required as a key contribution to achieving net zero by 2030 and the council is taking its leadership role very seriously and accelerating the installation of renewable energy across its own estate.  

The panel was updated on schemes that have been delivered or are in the pipeline. Charlton House Care Home, Lewis House office space, Keynsham Civic Centre and library and Newbridge Primary School are among the schemes that have already been delivered, with two further care homes, a Highways depot in Clutton and Keynsham Recycling Hub set to have solar panels installed this year.

Projects in development include rooftop solar panels on Odd Down Sports Ground, schools and leisure centres and solar canopies on car parks.

Work on the new Keynsham Recycling Hub is progressing well and when complete it will have on-site renewable energy generation via a 3800m2, 783 kilowatt peak solar panel array that will provide much of the power needed for the site, rainwater harvesting and sustainable drainage, and office and welfare buildings designed fabric-first to be sustainable.

The series of improvements at Charlton House, which provides care and health services to older vulnerable adults, were largely funded by a £450,000 grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme following a successful bid to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Improvements include the installation of solar panels on the roof and an air source heat pump to heat the building and provide hot water. The care home has also switched to using energy-efficient long-life LED lighting. The scheme reduces council service carbon emissions and delivers more comfort to residents at a lower cost.

No.1 Bath Quays, the office block at the heart of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s flagship regeneration project, has a host of passive design and energy efficiency measures to reduce its CO2 emissions, including a special coating on the windows to reduce heat loss and gain and 224 PV panels, 84-kilowatt peak, on its roof allowing on-site micro-generation of electricity.

The panel heard that the council is looking to secure more funding from government funding sources such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and it has a pipeline of projects to decarbonise its buildings.  

Councillor Sarah Warren, deputy leader and cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel, said: “The council must lead by example to ensure we achieve our net zero ambition locally. We’ve pledged to reduce our carbon emissions by making our buildings more energy efficient. There is still a great deal of work to be done, but I am pleased to be able to set out what we have achieved so far and what is in the pipeline.

“We have also set out identified gaps where we need to work with the community and commercial energy sector to ensure long-term financial and environmental benefits for people in Bath and North East Somerset.”