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Jobs and training in PV deal

NOTTINGHAM City Council’s deal with E.ON to install PV to the roofs of 600 council homes in the Aspley area of the city will create new jobs and training places in solar installation. The local authority has revealed that the installation programme, which should be completed by July, is creating three temporary jobs at E.ON to help deliver the contract plus an additional 20 training places for local unemployed people or trainee electricians to learn skills in PV.

The council told GreenTech Business Network that recruitment and training placement were underway and that further job/training opportunities would be created as the local authority devised a framework to install PV on its commercial properties.

Touted by the city council as one of the largest local authority PV schemes in the UK (the first was Birmingham’s Green New Deal, which aims to retrofit over 5,000 homes over five years), the arrangement should also help alleviate ‘fuel poverty’ in one of the poorer areas of the city as residents see reductions of around £100 per year in their electric bills. Another beneficiary of the scheme is E.ON itself, which paid a sum of money to Nottingham City Council to help secure the contract as part of the contract bidding process. Several bids for the contract were received and were evaluated by the local authority in partnership with Nottingham City Homes and the Energy Savings Trust.

E.ON now has responsibility for installing solar panels producing an estimated 4,000kW of electricity per year, which will produce an income stream to E.ON over 20-25 years through Feed-in Tariffs. It is an interesting but little mentioned fact that deals like this put utilities such as E.ON in the position of being both a payer out of, and a receiver of, Feed-in Tariffs. The initial pay out comes about because all utilities are obliged to contribute to the national fund from which Feed-in Tariff money is distributed. Figures for this fund, called the levelisation fund, are published by the regulator Ofgem which calculated there was over £4.5m in the pot in the third quarter of 2010. The amount of cash each utility pays into the pot is based on its market share of the UK electricity market.

But there is yet another business beneficiary of the Aspley PV programme – the electricity meter makers and designers. E.ON told GBN that the Aspley homes will initially be fitted with GPRS export meters, allowing the utility to remotely check on the performance of the solar panels and so handle the administration of the Feed-in Tariffs. These will eventually be replaced by smart meters, as part of the Government’s national rollout programme of 53m smart meters in 30m homes and businesses, due to start in 2014. One local designer of smart meters is the Wollaton-based Siemens Metering Services, whose director Martin Pollock told local media recently that the national smart meter programme would put Nottingham at the global centre of the industry.

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