Labour pledges to install solar panels in 2,000 public spaces

Elliot Chappell

Labour has pledged to install solar panels in 2,000 public spaces – including libraries, community centres and one stop shops – as part of its green industrial revolution if the party wins power.

Putting solar power hubs in thousands of public spaces will combat the climate crisis and save local councils money, the party says. Participating facilities will be able to export the electricity they do not use on the grid.

Overall, Labour estimates that each public facility will be £4,080 better-off each year, saving £8.2m across all participating facilities. The policy would reduce emissions by 16,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to taking 9,000 cars off the road.

Commenting on the policy announcement, Labour’s business and energy spokesperson Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “Labour wants the green industrial revolution to benefit every community. Solar panels will make our community spaces greener and cheaper to run.

“Dedicated outreach teams in every community will provide information on how people can benefit from home upgrades to make them warmer and cheaper to run, and how they can access the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs and training opportunities we are creating.”

Labour’s new regional energy agencies will run outreach and information services from the public spaces. The agencies will be new public bodies responsible for greening our energy system and running the energy grid for public benefit, not private profit.

Emphasising the urgency of the climate emergency, Long Bailey added: “At this election, the choice is clear – this is our last chance to take action to protect future generations or allow the Tories to accelerate our planet’s destruction.”

Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, added: “Installing solar panels on the roofs of community buildings will not only save councils money, it will reduce the emissions produced in our communities.

“Sharing information in our libraries, community centres and one stop shops on how residents can access Labour’s green industrial revolution will reinvigorate our community buildings, making them hubs of the future.”

In the second quarter of 2019, installations of solar panels fell 98% below the average rate in 2015, after the government scrapped subsidies for solar panel installations in April this year.

Savings for Labour’s new policy are based on an average panel generating 828 KWh per KW of installed capacity, and community buildings paying for electricity at the rate of 14.5p/KWh. It assumes an export tariff of 5.24p/kwh – the rate before it was cut by the Conservatives.

This latest announcement follows the party’s commitment at Labour conference to install solar panels on hospitals, creating a net-zero carbon emissions health service and save costs for the NHS.

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