NORTH Ayrshire Council is to install solar panels on 500 council houses in a radical move which will save their tenants money.

The initiative will see major financial benefits for residents who are likely to save up to £115 in the first year alone.

North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet has approved the plan to install up to 500 rooftop solar photovoltaic systems across its housing stock as part of its Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change Strategy.

Cabinet member for Place, Councillor Jim Montgomerie, said: “This programme provides so many benefits for North Ayrshire and particularly addresses the issues of fuel poverty and climate change.

“We know that many of our tenants struggle to make ends meet and rising energy prices place so much pressure on families, particularly those on low incomes.

“We have identified more than 1,000 properties in North Ayrshire which could benefit from the solar panels and will shortly be getting in touch again with the tenants to see if they are interested in taking part.

“The solar panels would be installed at no charge to the resident, meaning they will have a system which will generate free electricity during the day, and help reduce the burden of rising energy bills.

“In fact, over the next 20 years to the 500 installations will collectively save residents about £1million on their energy bills – that will make a major difference to their lives.

“As well as helping some of our lowest-income residents, this programme also makes a big environmental statement. We are continually looking at ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, and the solar panel programme is expected to generate an equivalent saving of 6,400 tonnes of carbon over 20 years.”

Initial consultation on the £1.6million solar panel initiative identified 1,100 Council properties in North Ayrshire which could be suitable, determined by factors such as house type, roof orientation, solar irradiation, and information from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

These residents will be contacted again to determine the level of interest with additional properties considered for inclusion on a first-come, first-served basis up to a limit of 500 installations.

Individual installations will be subject to a detailed property survey, and local electricity grid capacity.

It is hoped that the solar panels will be installed by this autumn with the potential for the scheme to be further rolled-out if successful.