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Housing Association's HQ goes solar
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Ranks of solar panels are now providing electricity for Paradigm Housing’s HQ in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire. The project is the first step in a programme using photovoltaic cells to help reduce the housing association's carbon footprint. The housing provider's long-term aim is to reduce residents’ fuel bills by either fitting photovoltaic cells (solar panels) to roofs, or by spending revenue earned by generating energy to reduce their costs in other ways.
Housing Association's HQ goes solar

Paradigm applied for the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s ‘Feed in Tariff’ (FITS) scheme whereby energy suppliers will pay up to 41p for every kilowatt of electricity produced by a low-carbon generating source, depending on the size of the project. Because the work was complete before March 2012, Paradigm qualified for the scheme and the tariff will be guaranteed for a period of 25 years, the price increasing annually by RPI.

The solar panels at Glory Park were fully funded by Paradigm, but will pay for themselves over the 25 years because the offices needs less power from the grid (therefore reducing the cost of electricity bills) and Paradigm is also being rewarded through the FITS tariff.

Paradigm is now investigating the possibilities of mounting solar panels on residents’ roofs. Paying upfront to fit the panels and then reaping the benefits over the years ahead is one way to make this pay. Another option is to rent out roof spaces to an energy supplier who will then install and maintain the solar panels for a 25-year period. So Paradigm is looking at roof areas on large blocks and groups of properties such as sheltered-housing schemes.

The company would like to install large arrangements of PV panels equivalent to putting panels on 1000 individual properties. Over 25 years, both the organisation and its residents could then benefit from cheaper electricity to the blocks, plus Paradigm could charge annual rent of £100,000 with a yearly increase linked to the RPI.

The money would be ring-fenced to spend more projects to increase fuel-efficiency, reduce costs and reduce environmental impact.

New-build homes are also increasingly being fitted with PV cells on their roof in order to achieve the higher levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

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