Willmott Dixon aims to show there is an important role for the Photo-Voltaic (PV) market to deliver low cost energy despite a planned cut in Feed-in Tariff income (FIT) announced by the Government.

The company has just invested nearly £100,000 to install 150 square metres of PV to provide affordable energy at an extra care scheme it’s completed for Housing 21 in Birmingham. It will cut energy costs at the 87 apartment facility by £1,000 per annum for residents and Housing 21, important in a sector that’s a heavy user of energy.

The FIT income generated at Saxon Court on Turves Green Road will enable Willmott Dixon to repay its investment in ten years after which the £6,000 FIT income per annum will go straight to the care home for the following 15 years at current rates.

Although FIT income from future PV installations will be lower following the Government’s plans to reduce the FIT rate in 2012, Willmott Dixon plans to introduce PV at another extra care scheme it’s building for Housing 21 in Warwickshire to show its commitment to PVs as a source of low cost energy for the most vulnerable in society.

John Frankiewicz, divisional CEO at Willmott Dixon Capital Works, explains, “While there was disappointment about the plans to reduce the FIT, the technology is becoming cheaper to install and remains an excellent way to provide low cost energy from a renewable source.

“The savings in the cost of energy are still substantial and while the payback times are longer and investment returns smaller, we will look at how to adjust our business model so that we can continue using PV for sectors like elderly care.”

“With more and more people falling into fuel poverty, we need to send a message to the market that to achieve affordable energy from a renewable source, technology like PV is an important part of the equation. It’s not about investors making a huge return, it’s about companies like Willmott Dixon taking action and investing in technology that will deliver low cost energy at a time when the price of fuel will continue to rise. We think PV is a viable technology to deliver affordable energy, especially as the costs of PV will continue to fall.”

Willmott Dixon’s decision to invest in PV at Turves Green gives renewed focus to a market re-adjusting to the Government’s announcement that it plans to reduce the FIT for PV installations with a total installed capacity of 4kW or less to 21p/kWh (16.8p for multi installations), which it indicates should deliver around a 4.5% rate of return.

According to Frankiewicz, energy hungry sectors like care and health need innovative thinking to mitigate against the cost of energy, “It’s up to companies like us to show leadership on behalf of clients like Housing 21 who will benefit from this over 25 years. We’ll learn from our installation of PV at Turves Green Road and look at how we introduce this technology on selected future projects to deliver real value for our clients.”

Andrew Apps, head of development for Housing 21 said, “We’re really pleased that Willmott Dixon has taken such a decisive step to help us and our residents reduce energy bills at a time when there is so much pressure to reduce cost, particularly for vulnerable sectors of the community.”