GALLERY: Lady Mary Archer opens ‘largest in UK’ solar energy system in Fenland retirement home

LADY Mary Archer was in March today to unveil the UK’s largest community home solar panel installation - which energy bosses fear could also be the last.

Nearly 70 residencies at Upwell Park, in Upwell Road, have had a 138kw solar system installed to save residents of the retirement complex up to �200 on their electricity bills each year.

Lady Archer, life president of the UK Solar Energy Society, said: “The residents at this excellent complex will see they are able to save a lot of money through this project which will provide them free, green energy that will save 2,500kg of carbon dioxide a year.

“Solar panels are increasingly popular because they provide clean and silent energy whilst also reducing the need for importing energy from other countries and making the UK more self sustainable.”

Snowmountain Enterprises asked renewable energy company Riomay to install more than 2,500 panels on its housing complex but Tony Book, executive director at Riomay, believes Government cut to subsidies in the last week could harm projects like Upwell Park.

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He said: “All the residents at Upwell Park are thrilled and delighted with the new panels, especially that it only took three weeks to install and that it will save them money.

“However with the new cuts to subsidies this week will mean that this could be the last of its kind.

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“It will mean that elderly people who live in places like Upwell Park will live in fuel poverty and the last thing we want is for people to turn off their heating so they can pay for food.”

Lady Archer added: “The government needs to look to encourage more people into cutting energy usage especially with the rising costs of electricity, oil and gas. One way could be to give different buildings different tariffs so that places like Upwell Park can also benefit from solar energy.”

Ben Skoulding, Snowmountain Enterprises director, said: “It is going to benefit everybody, the scheme will give free power to around 120 people at the care home and bungalows. It will provide power for lighting, heating and cooking and reduce household bills.

“We think its the largest solar scheme in Cambridgeshire and possibly the largest of its kind in the UK.”

Mr Skoulding also announced that he was in the process of introducing a similar scheme to Elliott Lodge.

Phylis Pamby has lived in Fenland most of her life and has welcomed the new solar panels.

“I’m just looking forward to the savings we will get next year,” she said, “We only saw the workmen when they came into our homes to put in a meter, it would have been better if we could have seen them topless. Even at 77 we like to see these things.”

George Garner has lived in the retirement complex since February but joined his sister who has lived at Upwell Park for 22 years. He said: “We now shut sit back and reap the benefits.”

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