Torfaen council is on track to save millions of pounds and significantly reduce its carbon footprint and impact on climate change after investing in over 45 energy efficiency upgrades across the borough.
The council has implemented a range of decarbonisation and sustainability projects over the last five years aimed at cutting its energy consumption including street lighting upgrades, LED lighting overhauls and the installation of numerous Building Energy Management Systems (BMS) in public sector buildings.
Worth over £1.9 million, the projects, which were funded with the help of interest-free funding administered by Salix Finance in partnership with the Welsh Government, are set to save Torfaen Council over £302K annually.
The news comes as the Council has declared a climate emergency and has committed to becoming carbon net-zero by 2030.
A key focus for the local authority has been to reduce the energy consumption within its schools – its biggest energy user, accounting for 34% of energy bills. Over the last five years, the council has invested in numerous projects across 20 schools using its Salix Recycling Fund, including LED lighting and Building Management Systems (BMS), which are projected to save more than £156,000 and 847,000 kWh of energy a year – the same as 109 home’s electricity use for one year. They will also reduce annual carbon emissions by 663 tonnes. Once the loans are repaid, savings will continue to be directed into Torfaen’s Salix Recycling Fund where they will be reinvested into other future energy reduction projects.
Ceri Williams, Schools Energy Finance Officer at Torfaen County Borough Council:
“Reducing our environmental footprint and improving our practices to have a greater focus on energy efficiency and sustainability is very important to Torfaen Council and is something we are continually reviewing.
“Over the last five years, we have invested in a significant number of projects designed to reduce our energy consumption and carbons emissions. These investments will continue to make financial and environmental savings every year and we have multiple other schemes and ideas in the pipeline. We plan to use local contractors and companies for future installations and maintenance to help boost the local economy and support a green recovery post pandemic for Torfaen.
“We are thankful to Salix Finance as without their support, many of these projects simply wouldn’t be possible. We urge other councils in Wales who are thinking about implementing energy efficiency upgrades to get in touch with them and see how they might be able to support them too.”
In total, the school initiatives will save more than 9,126 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 17.5 million kWh and £2.4 million over the lifetime of the technologies.
Recently two street lighting upgrades have been completed in 2021 using the Wales Funding Programme, with 1,922 outdated lanterns replaced with more modern light-emitting diodes (LEDs), six times more efficient than the previous units. The upgrades will save an additional £50k annually and further reduce carbon emissions. The Wales Funding Programme loans will be paid back over several years from the savings made on the energy bills, making the improvements cost-neutral.
Alongside upgrades with Salix, the local authority has also invested over £614,000 in corporately funded projects including voltage optimisation, LED lighting, pool pumps and boiler replacements across public facilities including the Civic Centre and Leisure facilities. These projects have helped reduce the annual energy bills by £120,000 and save 549 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Looking ahead, the council has further plans to improve its carbon footprint and green credentials. It is hoping to invest in more renewable technologies and is currently assessing the viability of installing wind turbines within the borough.
It is also progressing a project to create a dedicated solar farm at Ty Coch in Cwmbran which would supply clean energy to the grid. Consisting of 5,544 panels, the proposed farm would be located at the site of a former landfill, which is currently unused, and could provide a significant source of energy for the region.