Llangattock is one of 14 UK communities taking part in the year-long Green Streets challenge, which is aimed at helping groups discover ways to save energy and generate clean energy – with a £100,000 prize at the end for the community that gets together to do the most.
British Gas has already allocated £137,400 to Llangattock for a range of projects, including energy efficiency improvements worth around £90,000 to the 39 homes taking part directly in the challenge.
The PV installation – believed to be a first for the village – is for the Butterfield family, Michael, Ruth, and their three sons, Morgan, Iolo and Osian. The installation is expected to take two days and will mean the family will be able to generate around half of their electricity requirements from the sun.
Lee Barlow, project manager for Green Streets, explains: ‘Some of the householders involved in the challenge are opting for better insulation, or to replace old, inefficient boilers, which are two of the key things that can really help you save energy. But the Butterfield family live in a modern, well-insulated house, and they’ve already done pretty much everything they can do to reduce their energy use – so generating their own clean energy was the next logical step.’
‘We started our personal energy-saving journey four years ago,’ says Michael Butterfield, ‘and at that point we were using around 4,000kW of electricity a year. With some simple changes we’ve managed to cut this right back – and this year we’re expecting to use only around 1,600kW.
‘We’ve opted for a 1.05kWp rated PV system, which will produce around 800kW a year – that’s 50% of the electricity we use, and for me that’s incredible. I love the fact that I’ll be able to tell my children that half of our electricity use is being generated by the sun.’
But that’s not the only benefit for the Butterfields. Thanks to the Government’s Clean Energy Cashback Scheme, or Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) households are now being paid to generate clean energy, with an additional bonus for any surplus energy that’s exported back to the grid.
That means the family will receive over £330 a year from their energy supplier for the next 25 years for generating energy – on top of the savings they’ll make on their electricity bill.
That said, PV panels aren’t cheap: the Butterfield’s system will cost £6,500 – with £4,000 coming through British Gas Green Streets funding. The remaining £2,500 is being funded with a grant from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. ‘Unfortunately, this scheme is now closed,’ says Michael, ‘but the FITs still make PV an attractive proposition – especially if you get in early, because early adopters receive the highest tariff levels.’
A further 16 homes in the Llangattock Green Streets programme have requested quotes for PV, so it’s expected that over the coming months at least 10 more domestic PV systems will be installed in the village.
On top of that, the Green Streets project is also providing £20,000 for a 4.32kW PV system for Llangattock Primary School, with match funding of £7,500 coming from Powys County Council Local Education Authority. This will generate around £1,800 worth of benefit for the school annually, including FITs payments and reduced energy bills.
In addition, British Gas is currently working in partnership with Powys County Council and Llangattock Green Valleys (the community interest company set up to manage the Green Streets project and other sustainable energy initiatives in the Llangattock area) to provide energy efficiency measures for 41 council homes in the village.
‘Once we’ve carried out energy assessments on all of these properties, we’ll be looking at the most effective improvements we can make to help the tenants cut their energy bills,’ says Richard Hughes, Head of Energy Solutions (Wales and South West) for British Gas. ‘And we’ll also be looking at adding solar PV, because as well as generating free electricity for tenants, the council could use the FITs income to fund improvements on other housing stock.’
In total, this means that potentially more than 50 of Llangattock’s 420 homes could be fitted with PV panels by the end of the year – at least 10 through the Green Streets challenge, and 41 via the Powys County Council-British Gas-LGV partnership.
‘Green Streets has opened up a range of fantastic opportunities – not just for me and my family but for the whole village,’ says Michael Butterfield. ‘The money and expertise coming into our community this year will really get us going on our journey to becoming a carbon negative community within five years.’
What is PV? It’s a way of capturing the sun’s energy, using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting or be exported to the grid .
What does it look like? The PV cells are contained in flat panels that are usually fitted discretely on the roof. Other types are also available, including PV roof tiles and clear panels for conservatories.
What does it require? A minimum 8sq m of roof or wall space, facing within 90 degrees of south, and not overshadowed by trees or buildings. Plus space for the inverter, a laptop-size piece of equipment that transforms the direct current (DC) produced by the PV cells into usable alternating current (AC).
What does it pay? 41.3p per kWh for retrofitted systems under 4kW (provided the system is fitted before 31 March 2012). Plus 3p per kWh for exported energy.
How much energy will it provide? This depends on the size of the system and on your personal electricity consumption and usage patterns. But estimates suggest you can expect to generate around 40% of your annual usage.
How can I find out more? Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Notes to editors:
1. Llangattock is one of 14 communities taking part in the UK-wide British Gas Green Streets competition. The year-long project is being judged on how well each group:
• saves energy
• generate energy
• gets the local community involved
• makes a sustainable and remarkable difference.
2. Under the Green Streets programme, Llangattock has been allocated £137,400 worth of funding by British Gas for projects ranging from micro-hydro and solar PV to irrigation for the allotments and energy efficiency improvements to residents’ homes.
3. Llangattock Green Valleys (Community Interest Company registered no. 7255186), is managing Llangattock’s participation in the British Gas Green Streets project. LGV works in partnership with the following groups:
• Llangattock Area Community Allotments Society
• Llangattock Litter Pickers
• Llangattock Community Woodland Group
• Llangattock Biodiesel Club
FOR FURTHER PRESS INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Llangattock Green Valleys
tel: 01873 81147