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Wrexham Joins the Ranks of Solar Powerhouses

By Katie Anderson on March 7, 2012

According to a report in the Guardian, Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales, has joined the likes of Sacramento and Freiburg on an exclusive list of solar powerhouses.

Home to one of the largest factories of solar panels in Europe, Wrexham has been climbing the solar ladder since 2005. Proving that solar PV offers light even in the gloomiest of places, the town’s efforts to rely on solar technology are beginning to pay off in both an economic and environmental context.

Manufacturer Sharp claims to have pumped £43 million into the local economy by investing in its solar plant in Wrexham, creating more than a thousand jobs in the process. The solar giant is also responsible for encouraging the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on council homes throughout the town. In terms of environmental savings, Wrexham County Borough Council claims to have reduced annual carbon emissions by approximately 3,000 tonnes following its investment in solar.

Referring to the recent decision by the British Government to cut solar subsidies, a spokesperson for the council said: “We were never doing this for the money. Our intention was always to reduce emissions. We will still make a profit but it will take longer”.

Unfortunately, the decision to reduce Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) by more than half from 43p to 21p has already had an impact on the local economy in Wrexham, where Sharp has had to lay off a number of its workers. Locals will also feel the effects of the decision because less money will be paid for exporting energy back to the National Grid, however, solar panels will continue to generate electricity for use in the home. Future solar panel installations are likely to be hit by a further reduction to 13p, with more cuts expected in subsequent months as the cost of manufacturing solar panels falls.

Noting the potential demise of what was proving to be an extremely prosperous industry, Daniel Green, of solar energy firm Homesun, said: “It [the move towards solar] showed very clearly that people were desperate to get out of the clutches of the big six energy companies, which hate the idea of people generating their own electricity.

“There goes a small industry which has invested hundreds of millions of pounds”.