This summer the iconic Plymouth Life Centre will be crowned with the city’s largest solar roof.
As part of Plymouth City Council’s ambition to become a greener and sustainable city, the Council is working with Plymouth Energy Community (PEC), a local Community Benefit Society, to help increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the City.
PEC is owned and run by residents and aims to reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions in Plymouth. Last year they set up PEC Renewables, another Community Benefit Society, to fund and install locally-owned renewable energy installations. In 2014 they put free solar panels on 21 schools and community buildings, using funds raised through a community share offer.
Community share offers involve the public purchasing withdrawable shares which earn interest. As well as providing host buildings with a low-cost energy supply and valuable educational resource, the schemes are set to generate a £1.2million community benefit fund for PEC’s projects helping residents reduce fuel bills and energy use.
This year, the public were once again given the opportunity to invest and, after reaching their target amount of £850,000, combined with a £500,000 loan from Plymouth City Council’s investment fund, PEC Renewables can now commence deployment. In addition to Plymouth Life Centre; Marine Academy, Mayflower Community Academy, Heles School, Coombe Dean School and Torbridge High are also set to receive free solar PV arrays over the summer holidays.
Plymouth Life Centre, owned by Plymouth City Council and managed by Everyone Active, is one of the busiest leisure centres in the country.
Councillor Pete Smith, Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to address the City’s energy challenges and we have been delighted to work with PEC to make it happen. Due to its use, Plymouth Life Centre consumes a huge amount of energy; these solar panels will save a significant amount on its energy bill as well as provide an example of community-owned renewable energy in action.”
Dave Garland, Chair of PEC Renewables, and local resident, said: “Solar share offers give us the opportunity to generate our own energy and retain the income and cost-saving benefits locally.
“Once again we have shown the power of our community when we get together to make change happen. It confirms that here in Plymouth we care about the people that need help most as well as protecting the environment that we live in.”
Installation is due to commence over the summer holidays. A planning application has been submitted by PEC Renewables for an aluminium safety guardrail system on the roof. They have also submitted information about the proposed solar panels to the planning authority as permitted development, as per OFGEM regulations.
For further information, please visit www.plymouthenergycommunity.com.