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GATESHEAD: Solar power scheme will power 1,000 homes

GATESHEAD: Solar power scheme will power 1,000 homes

How solar panels installed at Gateshead Stadium could look (image Gateshead Council)

A solar panel scheme that will create enough power for 1,000 Gateshead homes was given the go-ahead by the council.

Gateshead Council is spending almost £4m in solar photovoltaic panels at four key sites it owns in the town centre area, including the council’s headquarters at the Civic Centre on Regent Street.

At a planning committee meeting on Wednesday evening councillors gave permission  for solar photovoltaics to be installed on previously developed land on Albany Road, and on the roof of the PROTO office building, both
located within the developing Baltic Quarter.

And the authority is also investing in a solar park to the south east of
Gateshead Stadium.

The council says that together the four sites will generate a total of 4.0 megawatts of green electricity – supplied directly to over 12 council buildings through its private electricity network across Gateshead town centre.

This will mean the council saves money on its energy bills, and takes a further step towards decarbonising energy generation across Gateshead, contributing to the authority’s aim to go carbon net zero by 2030.

A high-tech control system means the borough can rely more on solar power generation on longer, sunny days through the summer months, and switch to other power sources on shorter, cloudier days.

All sites are being installed by SAS Energy Ltd, one of the UK’s leading solar PV
installers, from now to Spring 2022.

Works are being funded by the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme following a £7.5m grant award to the council.

This grant is also funding work to connect four more Council buildings to Gateshead’s heat and power network.

Coun John McElroy, member for transport and environment at Gateshead Council, said: “We are vastly increasing the amount of Solar PV in our portfolio to continue tackling the climate emergency, and help protect the council against volatile, rising energy prices.

“As we increase our capacity to generate renewable electricity and low carbon heat, we are contributing to our goal of the borough going net zero for carbon emissions by 2030.”

At the Civic Centre, which already boasts photovoltaic panels on its south and west facing roofs, work has begun to install car ports over car parking spaces which will all be covered in photovoltaic panels.

The works are expected to last seven weeks, completing before Christmas. During this time the amount of visitor parking at the building has been substantially cut back.

Alternative parking is available nearby at Regent Court, Sunderland Road
(Tynegate), Swinburn Street or Gladstone Terrace.

Additionally, all bike parking will remain accessible for those cycling to the building.

The works do not affect red badge holders, disabled bays, members car parking or operational vehicles.

The investment in solar photovoltaic panels comes as Gateshead has just launched its new borough-wide climate strategy.

As a council, Gateshead has already made major progress in reducing carbon
emissions from its own activities with a 55% drop since 2010.

But this only accounts for around 2.5% of the borough’s total carbon footprint.
So now the Climate Strategy aims to get everybody with a stake in Gateshead
involved, whether they live, work or travel through the borough, urging them to make changes to reduce carbon emissions.

Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter

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