New solar array at Riverside leisure centre will cut carbon and energy bills

Exeter’s Leisure service will take another big step towards cutting its carbon footprint with plans to fit a major solar array on the roof of the Riverside leisure centre.

The energy generated will provide both carbon savings and reduced energy bills for the centre. 

Leisure is one of the city Council’s heaviest energy users – accounting for around 40 per cent of its total energy bill.

Work to strengthen the roof at the Riverside in order to support the solar panel array will begin shortly.

The work will necessitate the closure of the sports hall during the period of works, from 6 June until September 25. Alternatives for regular users will be provided wherever possible.

Council Leader Phil Bialyk said: “The Council has committed to being Net Zero Carbon by 2030, and it is essential that we significantly reduce our current energy use if we are to achieve this.

“Not surprisingly, leisure is a big user of energy – especially when it comes to heating swimming pools. That’s why we built our new leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point to the ultra-low energy Passivhaus standard, which is expected to achieve an annual energy reduction of up to 70 per cent.

“At the Riverside the best solution is to harness energy from the sun, and I am delighted that we are about to start work on this project.

“It will lead to some disruption while the sports hall is out of use, and I apologise for any disruption this will cause. But the short term disruption will be worth the long term gain of substantially reducing our energy use and ensuring the centre remains fit for purpose in the long term.”

Other than the Sports Hall, all other facilities at the Riverside will remain fully open during the duration of the work.

The solar installation will provide a much-needed renewable energy supply and small battery storage for the Riverside Leisure Centre.

The current roof structure is in a very poor condition and needs to be replaced to support the solar installation and provide for the longer term sustainability for the Centre.

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