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Huge solar array to be installed at council leisure centre

Published on Thursday, March 16, 2023

2 minute read

Aylestone Leisure Centre

A NEW solar panel array the size of 18 tennis courts is set to be installed at a city council sport and leisure centre.

Leicester City Council is investing around £1.1million on the installation of more than 800 new photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of Aylestone Leisure Centre.

It’s part of a citywide programme of investment in low carbon, energy efficient improvements to council buildings which will help make them cheaper to run.

Work is currently underway to remove and replace the leisure centre’s existing roofing in preparation for the installation of the 3,600m2 solar PV array.

Once up and running, the new PVs will allow the centre to self-generate an estimated 270 MWh (megawatt hours) of clean energy in a typical year. They will also help achieve annual carbon savings equivalent to around 60 tonnes per year.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on transport, clean air and climate emergency, said: “This new investment in major energy efficiency improvements at Aylestone Leisure Centre represents another step forward in our citywide response to the climate emergency. With over 800 panels, it will be the largest array of PV panels we have installed on any of buildings so far.

“We are acutely aware that the need to retrofit and decarbonise existing buildings is amongst the biggest challenges presented by the climate emergency.

“Through an ongoing programme of investment in making our buildings more energy efficient, we can dramatically cut carbon emissions. In doing so, we will also help to save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in energy costs – something that’s very welcome in these extraordinarily challenging times.”

Aylestone Leisure Centre will remain open to the public during the works.

The work at Aylestone Leisure Centre is supported by up to £500,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of Leicester City Council’s successful bid for over £4million of match-funding to support a range of projects that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Work is being carried out by construction partners Stepnell under contract to Leicester City Council estates and building services. It will be the first project to be delivered under Stepnell’s new ‘Step Energy’ service.

Tom Sewell, regional director at Stepnell, said: “Working with local partners throughout the project, such as Leicestershire Cares, LEBC and Leicester Environmental Volunteers, will enable us to deliver on our commitment to social value. We prioritise leaving a lasting legacy in the communities where our projects take place, not only on the quality of works but also our impact on supporting the next generation to thrive, making the environment better and improving local economies by providing valuable work opportunities.”

Aylestone Leisure Centre is also currently undergoing a major refurbishment which has already seen its entrance and main reception overhauled. Work to revamp and modernise its fitness studio is due to be complete next month. The work is the latest investment by Leicester City Council in its gyms and sports centres across the city.