From this month the building, which houses some of the county’s most important historical artefacts, will be powered by renewable electricity from 174 roof-mounted solar panels.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which is around fifteen times the size of a domestic PV setup, will generate more than 60 MWh of zero carbon electricity each year and prevent 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
The system will bring additional generation capacity at a time when the County Council is already producing more clean electricity than it consumes in delivering its core activities, excluding schools.
The Record Office in Orchard St, Chichester is an ‘ideal location’ for solar panels because it has a high and constant energy demand from the climate control systems needed to preserve historical items, the council said.
This means that most of the energy generated by the solar panels will be used to run the building, reducing the need for more costly and carbon intensive electricity from the grid. The system will reduce annual energy costs by around £9,000, and this figure will rise over time as grid electricity prices increases.
Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for the environment and climate change said: “Generating renewable electricity to power our buildings is a key part of achieving our aim to be a carbon neutral authority by 2030. This project is another example of how organisations such as ours can lead by example and operate in a more environmentally sustainable way.”
The Record Office installation has been funded through the County Council’s Salix interest-free loan recycling fund. The building joins a growing list of County Council sites, including the County Hall campus (49kWp), Durban House (Bognor Regis) (98kWp), Crawley Library (46kWp) and an additional 55kWp installed across the County Council’s corporate estate.
The County Council has also developed solar farms at Tangmere and Westhampnett near Chichester and has an ongoing programme to install solar panels and battery storage at schools to help them reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.