It’s claimed a £401,000 investment in solar panels at Carlton Road Business Park will save money, cut harmful emissions and help hit Ashford Borough Council’s ambitious zero carbon goals

The decision to invest £401,000 in a half megawatt roof-mounted solar array at Carlton Road Business Park is claimed to be further proof that when it comes to tackling climate change, the authority is “not just talking the talk, but walking the walk”.

The council’s Aspire landscape team, responsible for all grounds maintenance across Kent’s largest borough, is based at Carlton Road and the solar panels will supply its large depot with both free and carbon neutral electricity, with any surplus sold to the National Grid.

Before approving the investment in the project, Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet heard that the installation of the solar array will reduce imported electricity, and will also provide facilities to supply electricity for electric vehicles and plant.

Once the scheme goes live, the amount of carbon dioxide offset is estimated to be 301,322 kg per year; a significant sum which will not only offset the council’s footprint, but also help to deliver on the authority’s zero carbon ambitions.

Cllr Nathan Iliffe, portfolio holder for corporate property and projects, said: “In 2019 we made a pledge to achieve zero carbon across the council’s estate and operations by 2030. This scheme will help us achieve that. Decarbonisation efforts to slow, stop and reverse climate change is vital for present and future generations of people living in Ashford, the UK and indeed the world.

“The installation of solar array at Carlton Road will reduce our reliance on imported electricity at a time electricity prices are increasing. It will also provide the Aspire depot with clean, carbon neutral electricity.

“This scheme contributes significantly to achieving our objective to be a ‘Green Pioneer’. I hope that continued and increased renewable energy generation at council-owned property will encourage local residents and businesses to do the same.

“This is yet another example of Ashford Borough Council not just talking the talk, but walking the walk,” he added.

Cabinet were told that the capital cost will be paid back through the saving of electricity in approximately eight years. Viability has been calculated on a lower end income scenario whereby the Aspire depot consumes the energy generated and remaining energy is sold to the National Grid for a basic import rate. A system of 28 PV arrays, including a total of 1,381 panels, will provide a total output of 566kWp estimated peak annual production of electricity.

Councillors heard that feasibility studies for more solar array installations are underway at other council-owned sites and buildings, and recommendations will be brought forward when ready.

By Ed

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