Work is about to start on a canopy of 543 solar panels that will cover the entire New County Hall visitors’ carpark and significantly reduce running costs for the building.
The 230-kilowatt project will power a third of the energy needs of Cornwall Council’s headquarters in Truro and decrease its carbon footprint.
Believed to be only the second solar canopy of its size in Cornwall, work on the ambitious renewable energy scheme will start in early January.
The canopy will be built over the visitor and council pool vehicle carparks at the front of New County Hall and will generate around 200,000kWh every year, reducing the building’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 tonnes of carbon annually.
During the work the 62-space visitor carpark and 31-space council pool car park will be shut until spring with alternative parking provided in the members’ carpark on the east side of the building.
The solar canopy is the latest in the council’s programme to increase the installed capacity of renewable energy in its buildings from approximately 8 megawatts to more than 20 megawatts by 2030 – one of the highest renewable energy levels among local authorities in the country.
It follows the installation of solar panels on the roof of New County Hall which are currently supplying a quarter of the building’s energy.
Other council solar projects include Kresen Kernow in Redruth which is powered by a 49-kilowatt system saving around 12 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Two solar arrays have also been installed at Newquay Airport as well as at Stoke Climsland School and further council buildings as part of wider refurbishment.
All the work has been funded through the council’s £20m Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Technology Fund and is a key part of its work to help Cornwall move towards becoming carbon neutral.
Cllr Martyn Alvey, Cornwall’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, said:
“This new solar canopy is a huge step forwards in our ambitions to generate renewable energy and decarbonise our council buildings.
“It underlines our continued commitment to tackling the climate emergency and as only the second solar canopy in Cornwall we hope this exciting project could act as a demonstrator and blueprint for similar projects elsewhere.”
Cllr David Harris, Cornwall’s deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, said:
“Taken together, our new solar canopy and rooftop array will mean that more than half of the energy powering New County Hall will be renewable, significantly reducing our running costs and lowering our emissions.”
To allow the works to take place a tree showing signs of ash dieback and a non-native tree will be removed. To offset the loss, 10 new native trees will be planted at the front of New County Hall.
Other measures to enhance biodiversity include a new hedgerow and grassland improvements.
The carparks will be resurfaced as part of the scheme.