Contractor helps care home cut energy costs


Birmingham-based contractor Willmott Dixon is helping a care home in Northfield save energy and cut costs by installing 150 sq m of Photo-Voltaic (PV) panels on its roof.

Willmott Dixon has invested nearly £100,000 to install the PV system to provide low cost energy at the 87-apartment Saxon Court development, on Turves Green Road. The firm recently completed the construction of the facility on behalf of Housing 21, the UK’s largest non-profit provider of care, health and housing for older people.

Income generated from the Feed-in-Tariff at Saxon Court will enable Willmott Dixon to recoup its investment in ten years, after which the £6,000 per annum FIT income will go straight to the care home. A further £1,000 per annum will be saved on energy costs for residents and Housing 21.

The FIT scheme was introduced by government in 2010, under powers in the Energy Act 2008. The scheme allows people to invest in small-scale low-carbon electricity, in return for a guaranteed payment from an electricity supplier for the electricity they generate and use, as well as a guaranteed payment for unused surplus electricity they export back to the grid.

Willmott Dixon now plans to introduce PV panels at another extra care scheme it is building for Housing 21 in Warwickshire.

Willmott Dixon’s decision to invest in PV at Saxon Court gives renewed focus to a market coming to terms with the Government’s announcement that it plans to reduce the FIT for PV installations with a total installed capacity of 4kW or less to 21p/kWh, which it indicates should deliver around a 4.5 per cent rate of return.

Peter Owen, managing director of the Midlands operation of Willmott Dixon, said energy hungry sectors like care and health need innovative thinking to mitigate against the cost of energy.

“While there was disappointment about the FIT announcement, the technology is excellent for providing energy from a renewable source and is becoming cheaper to install,” he said.

“There is still an investment return and the savings in the cost of energy are substantial, which for the care sector is important.

“To achieve affordable energy from a renewable source, technology like PV remains an important part of this equation. It’s not about investors making a huge return, it’s about a company like Willmott Dixon taking action and investing in technology that will deliver low cost energy to clients at a time when the price of fuel will continue to rise. The payback periods may have increased, but we think PV is a viable technology to deliver affordable energy.

“It’s up to companies like us to show leadership on behalf of clients like Housing 21 who will benefit from this over 25 years. We aim to learn from our installation of PV at Saxon Court and look at how we introduce technology like this cost effectively on selected future projects to deliver real value for our clients.”

Andrew Apps, head of development for Housing 21, said: “We’re really pleased that Willmott Dixon has taken such a decisive step to help us and our residents reduce energy bills at a time when there is so much pressure to reduce cost, particularly for vulnerable sectors of the community.”


Picture caption: Eamonn Burns (left), operations director at Willmott Dixon, and Marcus Reeve, commercial manager at Willmott Dixon, at Saxon Court in Northfield.



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