A Lowestoft-based charity is the first organisation to benefit from free solar panels as part of Suffolk County Council’s recently launched Renewable Energy Fund.

Nirvana Health and Fitness, on Pinbush Road in Lowestoft, is now hosting a 70kWp solar panel installation and is benefitting from zero-carbon electricity.

The council’s £400,000 Renewable Energy Fund is open to eligible businesses looking to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint through solar power. Successful applicants will have solar panels supplied and installed for free.

Once the panels are installed, the business is sold electricity at a better rate than their existing tariff, so they will see immediate savings.

The Fund itself benefits from income generated by the sale of the solar-generated electricity. This means money goes back into the pot, allowing more solar panel applications to be considered by the Fund and installed across Suffolk.

Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment & Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said:

“This is a very exciting project to assist Suffolk’s businesses with the costs of installing solar panels. I have heard from businesses who have previously considered solar panels, but the cost of equipment and installation put them off. With this new fund, they do not have to find this initial injection of cash, we’ll do that for them.

“Now, more than ever, as local businesses look to recover from the impact of coronavirus, every penny counts. So not only will businesses be working towards a greener future, they can save overhead costs on their energy bill.

“Suffolk County Council has invested in its own buildings for a number of years, generating energy from solar power and finding ways of storing that energy. The Renewable Energy Fund gives Suffolk’s businesses the opportunity to benefit from solar power too.

“The council declared a climate emergency last year and this fund is yet another way that we are working towards a carbon-free future, and also supporting local businesses recover from coronavirus.”

The fund complements the council’s and the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership’s other established projects which are supporting the county’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. For example, Business Energy Efficiency Anglia and the Carbon Charter have been helping local businesses to reduce their carbon emissions for a number of years.

In further support of local business, the solar panel installation at Nirvana Health and Fitness has been carried out by Ivy Solar, a Woodbridge-based solar PV specialist.

Joe Annis, landlord at Pinbush Road and SLT Group trustee, said:

“SLT Group, which owns Nirvana Health and Fitness, already holds a Gold Carbon Charter award – a sign of our longstanding commitment to providing the best quality services to our customers in a sustainable manner. We have a strong track record of re-investing back into sport and leisure to continually improve the lives and opportunities of residents and visitors to our area, and this arrangement frees up further resource for this aim. We are delighted to be partnering Suffolk County Council in this initiative.”

If you are a business with a relatively high daytime energy demand and large roofspace interested in applying to the Renewable Energy Fund, contact Sarah Gill at Groundwork Suffolk sarah.gill@groundwork.org.uk or call 07720 098980.