The £220,000 investment at the authority’s environmental hub, in Cledford Lane, Middlewich, run by arms-length company Ansa, will be paid back in just over six and a half years.
The investment shows the authority’s commitment to sustainable energy production and the reduction of carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.
The 728 solar panels will reduce the running costs of the site by 15 per cent – saving £33,000 a year from its energy bill (a total of 201,000kWh). The 229kW system will also slash emissions of CO2, a major ‘greenhouse’ gas, by 100 tonnes a year.
The electricity from the solar panels helps reduce costs of energy used to power the air filtration systems in the building, which is maintained under negative pressure with fast closed doors and activated carbon air filtration to ensure the highest environmental standards at the site.
A key priority for the council has been to reduce the consumption of energy and the carbon footprint of council-owned buildings. This will release valuable funding to support vital front line services for residents.
Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration said: “This is significant move by the council to adopt renewable innovations that reduce our running costs, help us play our part in protecting and improving the environment and provide maximum value for residents.
“We will continue to seek to identify green technologies to help improve the sustainability of council buildings across the borough, wherever it is cost effective.”
Councillor Brian Roberts, cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “This hub site is already contributing to helping the environment by reducing landfill and facilitating the generation of electricity outside the borough from waste. This latest investment in solar panels makes great economic and environmental sense and it benefits everyone.”
Councillor Quentin Abel, the council’s environment champion, said: “This is an excellent project that is part of the council’s commitment to develop a wider strategy to become carbon neutral by 2025 and to contribute to carbon reduction across the borough.”
Upon his election as leader of Cheshire East Council in May, Councillor Sam Corcoran called for local action to help tackle ‘the emergency of climate change’.
A notice of motion tabled by Cllr Corcoran, which was seconded by Cllr Abel and backed by a unanimous vote of full council, called for a Cheshire East environmental strategy to be brought forward ‘as a matter of urgency’.
The motion also called for the council to be carbon neutral by 2025 and said the local authority ‘will work to encourage all businesses, residents and organisations in the borough to reduce their carbon footprint – by reducing energy consumption and promoting healthy lifestyles’.