To help the Cornish village of Cambourne to reduce its carbon footprint and save money on energy bills, Kier has been awarded a contract worth £400,000 the Parish Council to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on seven community buildings.

Originally the tender was for just three buildings across the parish, but the council later extended this to eight upon realising the benefits of solar energy. The buildings receiving the panels include District Council offices, a community centre, a cricket pavilion, a maintenance building, a wildlife centre, a school, a library and a leisure centre.

The project is funded by Cambourne Parish Energy Fund, set up with developer contributions through an S106 agreement with McA Developments (Taylor Wimpey and Bovis Homes).

The solar systems are well suited to leisure centres and schools because of their relatively high power usage during daylight hours, compared with residential properties, which have the greatest energy usage during the evening.

The PV panels range in size from a 4kW system being installed on the cricket pavilion, to a 50kW system on the roof of the leisure centre. All together, the eight buildings are expected to generate 208,000kWh of electricity per year. That’s enough to power 60 houses and will save the community around £20,000 per year on its energy bills. On top of this, the council will cut its carbon emissions by 119 tonnes per year as a result of embracing the greener energy source.

Plus, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced a delay to the next round of cuts to the Feed-in-Tariff financial support, which means the council will enjoy an extended period of subsidised energy production. Currently, for every kilowatt of energy produced by the photovoltaic systems, the government pays the owner up to 21p.

Nigel Brunton-Reed, operations director for Kier, commented, ”We’re pleased to be helping Cambourne Parish Council save money and reduce its carbon footprint – two very important tasks for all councils in the current climate.”

The Vine Inter Church Primary school, which is receiving the panels, will also benefit from an educational display, provided by Kier, for use in its reception areas. The display teaches children how solar power works, the benefits it offers and the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

“Our educational displays are an extra we like to provide when installing solar panels at a school. It’s a great opportunity to teach people about a green source of energy that is still under utilised,” added Brunton-Reed.

John Vickery, Cambourne parish clerk, said, “During the tendering process, Kier showed a real understanding of Cambourne’s needs and intentions, and a thoroughness that made us confident we could go forward with them.

“When we decided to extend the contract beyond the three buildings as originally planned, Kier showed great willingness and flexibility to complete the extra work in the same agreed time frame as before. Not only that, but they consulted with us on the possible community buildings which would benefit from receiving the PV panels.”

Work on the project began 22nd May and throughout the project Kier aims to cause as little disruption as possible so that the council buildings can remain open.

After winning the contract, Kier successfully tendered for a second contract with South Cambridgeshire District Council to install PV panels on its offices, which are also situated in Cambourne.