Community buildings 'could reap £100m solar energy reward'

Village halls, churches, pubs and other community buildings could be in with a chance of making an estimated £100 million by generating electricity through solar power, according to a recent report. British Gas and think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said installing solar panels could help raise money to keep community buildings open.

The report states that solar power would help cut electricity bills and generate payments through the feed-in tariff, a government scheme which pays households and organisations for renewable power. Research for the report showed solar panels on village halls and community centres could generate over £18 million a year, £15 million for pubs and £41 million for schools.

Gearoid Lane of British Gas said: "These findings are great news for British communities. As well as helping to keep local facilities open and serving their community, installing technology like solar panels on community buildings can have a great impact on helping to familiarise people with renewable technologies and make them more accessible."

Matthew Lockwood, associate director at ippr said: "Micro-renewable technologies offer a fantastic opportunity for communities to show local commitment to global change. They can also help the coalition Government kill two policy birds with one stone, since it wants both to be the greenest government ever and to create a big society where community organisations and volunteers play a much more important role in our lives.

"But this will not happen without the right enabling framework, and the coalition Government should maintain the feed-in tariff for renewable electricity and commit to introducing similar support for renewable heat.

"It is then for communities, working in partnership with support providers and delivery companies, to grab a piece of the opportunity that is on offer."

British Gas is also investing £15 million to give free solar panels to schools.

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