Government to give £4 million for solar power for public buildings

Eighteen solar projects across the UK have won a share of £4 million for the installation of solar power generating capacity on public buildings, as part of the Government’s showcase for the technology.

The announcement follows a call for developers to bid for a share of the money in November last year (see related story). “This £4 million will put these very visible public projects in the front line of our commitment to solar energy,” said Minister for Energy Brian Wilson. “It’s a major boost for that brand of renewables.”

The projects include one at Cambridge University, whose science facilities are being moved to a new purpose-built campus to the west of the city, visible from the M11 motorway. Power from a new photovoltaic installation – intended to be the largest in the UK – will provide electricity for the campus, and will supply an electrolyser which will produce hydrogen for a fuel cell powered bus service.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales will also be benefiting from the hand-out, as it will be able to develop a photovoltaic installation to provide power to treat sewage to produce water for irrigation. Birmingham City Council’s indoor sports training centre will also be receiving money – for a photovoltaic installation to provide power for a new international sports facility due to host the world indoor athletics championships in March 2003, soon after completion. The photovoltaic cells will also provide additional shading on the roof of the building, avoiding the need for mechanical cooling.

“I want to see thousands of roofs covered by solar panels every year,” said Wilson. “We have a lot of catching up to do if we are to aspire to the same kind of programmes in Japan and Germany.” In May last year, the Government also called on three million homes to take part in a solar power trial (see related story).

“I’m sure that developers and UK manufacturers of solar equipment will invest in the future of this important industry,” said the Minister. “The potential for a green manufacturing industry is an important part of the case in favour of developing our renewable energy.”

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