COUNCIL bosses believe they will be in the money by installing photovoltaic panels on civic buildings.
The city council is to spend £230,000 from its New Homes Bonus funding to install the panels on the roof of four buildings, including the Civic Centre in Paris Street, and believes it will make a profit of some £680,000 over 20 years. The panels will replace the wind turbines which were put up in 2007 at a cost of £5,000.
The decision to spend money on the panels was taken by the city's chief executive Philip Bostock in consultation with city council leader Pete Edwards.
A spokesman for the council said: "Photovoltaic panels in the roofs will deliver an ongoing reduction in the council's energy costs as well as reducing its carbon footprint. The other buildings are Oakwood House, the Materials Reclamation Facility and the Arc – the Royal Albert Memorial Museum's storage facility.
"Installing the panels now is a good time because of the government's attractive Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) scheme.
"Because of the much better returns generated from 'solar panels' and the current attracted FIT, it has been decided to remove the three wind turbines that are situated on the Civic Centre roof."
Cllr Edwards, said: "Although the turbines helped us reduce our energy costs and at the same time our carbon footprint, the installation of solar panels is a much more attractive proposition with greater returns."
The city council is donating the turbines to a local initiative that will help teach local school children about the importance of sustainability.
The wind turbines will go to a partnership between Granted Consultancy Ltd, a renewable energy consultancy based in Exmouth, Highfield Farm in Topsham and several local schools.
Highfield Farm already runs an open door policy where Ian Shears, the farm owner, teaches school children from the area about alternative energy solutions such as solar, rainwater harvesting and woodchip boilers.
The wind turbines will be used to deliver project work around science, technology and maths and is aimed at helping children understand the potential for careers and the importance of renewables in the South West.