Wrexham is powering its way to becoming an environment hot spot
The town aims to install 30,000 solar panels on social housing in one of Europe’s biggest fit outs.
Wrexham County Borough Council is on target with its ambition to fit 3,000 of its social houses with solar photovoltaic panels.
The initiative is part of a wider environment strategy, which has seen Wrexham become the top authority in Wales for reducing carbon emissions (Environment Agency) and in the top ten per cent in the UK.
The solar panels – which convert energy from sunlight into electrical energy – are being retrofitted on existing housing stock across the borough. This electrical energy is then used to power electrical appliances such as televisions, fridge-freezers and microwaves.
Any surplus gets sold to the national grid and the money can then be invested into council services.
It is estimated that the 20,000m² of PV cells that have been fitted to date will save 950tonnes of CO² with each roof generating 1258kw hours every year.
Wrexham-based manufacturer, Sharp Solar, which employs 1000 local people, is providing the panels.
Forrest Green – the environmental services division of social housing regeneration specialist Forrest – was awarded the project in September last year and has employed local people in the project as installers, tenant liaison officers, electricians and labourers.
Leader of Wrexham County Borough Council, Councillor Ron Davies, said: “We are on our way to reducing the borough’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2016 and the solar project is one of our major initiatives to meet those targets.
“Social housing is one of the largest contributors to Wrexham’s carbon footprint. We’re working closely with tenants to explain why PVs are important for the borough and the benefits of the scheme, which is expected to save up to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in Wrexham. That is the equivalent of planting a forest of 3,000 trees!
“Alongside this the project has given a real boost to the local economy creating jobs and showcasing Wrexham as a place to do business.”
Lee McCarren, chief executive of Forrest, said: “Projects like this show how housing providers can reduce their impact on the environment.
“Local authorities are continuing to invest in sustainable technologies as the benefits extend far beyond mere monetary savings; this first wave of installations demonstrates the considerable impact they can have.”
Tenants in Wrexham who haven not directly benefitted from the solar installations can find out more about how they can reduce their energy bills through the Green Doctor scheme. The initiative is a joint venture between Wrexham County Borough Council and Groundwork North Wales and is funded by WCBC and Ebico an energy company.
The Green Doctor comes to your home and carries out an energy audit of the property free of charge. They will also provide energy saving advice and money saving ideas and even install energy saving measures such as; draught excluders, radiator reflective panels, room thermometers and water savers.
Alison Fuller, Green Energy Coordinator at Groundwork North Wales, said: “Groundwork is delivering the Green Doctor programme in Wrexham and this free service can help residents to save in excess of £100 per year on their energy bills. We achieve this with a combination of installing energy saving measures and providing advice about changes in behaviour around energy use. Energy saving not only help individual tenants to have lower bills and a warmer home but also help on a global scale as carbon emissions are reduced as less energy is used.”
Wrexham County Borough Council is encouraging all residents to become climate heroes with its people power campaign. Find out more at www.peoplepwerwrexham.org/