The Williams family from Whittington give the thumbs up to their solar panels

Local environmental organisations Southern Staffordshire Community Energy (SSCE) and Whittington and Fisherwick Environment Group (WFEG) are urging householders and community buildings in Lichfield and Tamworth districts to follow the lead of Whittington and install Solar Photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.

Whittington believe they have become the nation’s leading solar village.

More than 30 homes have now gone down the solar PV route while every major community building in the parish now sports at least 4kWp of solar panels on their roof, including the school, Church Hall, Village Hall and St. Giles Hospice. A local farmer has also joined the solar party having installed a grand total of 170kWp of panels on various buildings around his farm. In total over 250 kWp of solar PV has now been installed in the village with another 50kWp expected over the next few weeks.

The electricity generated by the panels in Whittington and Fisherwick is sufficient to provide all the power for over 50 homes with an annual saving of a massive 1359 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Most of the homes in Whittington have obtained their panels through the Solar 500 group discount scheme that WFEG set up with Low Carbon Lichfield in April 2011. This scheme has now been taken up by 90 households, 26 of them in Whittington, and 2 community buildings, including many in Lichfield District, Tamworth and surrounding areas. The idea has been copied by other community organisations further afield including Stafford and Loughborough.

But the SSCE and WFEG say that people should move quickly if they want to beat the next Feed- In Tariff (FiT) reduction which is now due on 1st August this year having recently been delayed from 1st July.

For instance under the Solar 500 group discount a typical 10 panel system now costs a little over £5000 while a 6 panel system can be installed for under £4000. With the larger system the capital is expected to pay back in nine years with the FiT and electricity savings. The Feed-in Tariff currently pays 21p per kWh for all electricity generated by the panels (for systems under 4kWp). This is jnflation-proofed, tax-free and guaranteed for 25 years.

Julian Floyd from Osprey Close in Whittington who has taken advantage of the Solar 500 scheme said: ‘We are really pleased with our panels which have now generated 1370 kwh of in eight months. That means we have earned £600 under the Feed-in Tariff scheme. On top of that we save on electricity bills – we put the washing machine on when the sun is shining when we get free electricity – its brilliant. The Solar 500 group discount scheme means that solar PV is accessible to more people and they can have confidence in a scheme that has already seen over 90 installations. But people do need get in quickly now before the FiTs are reduced again.’

The group discount scheme is run by New World Solar and is available to any household or organisation in Lichfield and Tamworth areas. Anyone who would like a free roof survey and quotation or further information should contact Mike Kinghan via mike@wfeg.org.uk or by phone on 01543 432238.