'Mammoth' task as every building in county to have solar panels by 2050

Solar panels on the exterior of Endeavour House

Every building in Essex will be required to have solar panels by 2050 - Credit: John Kerr

Solar panels should be installed on every available roof on domestic, industrial and commercial buildings by 2050, to help Essex meet its environmental targets.

That’s according to a report from the county’s climate change commission, finalised just six months ahead of the critical UN climate change conference COP26.

It is one of several recommendations by the climate change commission for Essex move to net zero by 2050, that needs to be ratified by Essex County Council next week.

These also include retrofitting all buildings and homes to see domestic gas boilers replaced by carbon neutral alternatives such as heat pumps by 2040.

This alone is a mammoth task – around 85% of homes are heated by gas boilers.

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And given within Essex there are more than 600,000 existing homes the cost of replacing the heating system could cost significant sums in itself.

This is complicated by assessments suggesting hydrogen will only be able to heat around 11% of homes, due to limited supply.

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The remainder could be warmed by heat pumps, which cost as between £6,000 and £18,000.

Councillor James Abbott, a Green Party member of  the climate change commission, said: “It is a monumental task and a lot of these targets are things the council cannot do on its own and  which will require a lot of cooperation across multiple platforms.

“There are some very ambitious and radical proposals in there and it will be very interesting to see what the response of the county council cabinet will be."

It says all new build houses, industrial and commercial units should have solar panels fitted immediately, the whole housing stock retrofitted by 2040, and solar panels installed on every available roof on domestic, industrial and commercial buildings by 2050, with a target of 25 per cent by 2030.

Speaking about the Essex Climate Action Commission’s recommendations, Kevin Bentley, leader of Essex County Council, said: “Essex County Council is proud to be on the forefront of combating this alongside the commission, and we look forward to working together with everybody who lives and works in Essex to help make net zero a reality.”

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