Warrington Borough Council has agreed to buy two cutting-edge solar farms to be built in Yorkshire, making it the first local authority to produce all of its own electricity from clean energy.
The £62 million deal with green energy experts Gridserve will fund the construction of the two largest solar farms to be built in Great Britain since 2016.
A 25.7MW solar farm in Hull will supply 100 per cent of the council’s electricity needs and cut its energy bills by up to £2 million a year, while electricity from a 34.7MW hybrid solar farm and 27MW battery storage system near York will be initially sold on the open market.
Together the two solar farms will generate enough power to supply the equivalent of more than 18,000 homes and will pioneer some of the most sophisticated technology on the planet.
World’s most advanced solar?
Both farms will use bifacial solar panels - generating energy on both sides - which use trackers to follow the sun, maximising electricity generation over the whole day. This minimises ‘price cannabilisation’ risk from solar firms with fixed position panels, which tropically produce peak output at the same time each day.
The lithium-ion battery storage system in York will be the largest at any UK solar farm and will allow Gridserve to control the flow of energy to get the best price for solar power and balance supply and demand on the grid.
Both sites will also feature electric forecourts once they are up and running, offering supercharging services for up to 24 electric vehicles simultaneously.
Toddington Harper, chef executive and founder of Gridserve, said: “These will be the most advanced solar farms in the UK - and quite possibly the world - ushering in a new era of subsidy-free, truly sustainable energy.
“We’ve completely rethought the solar model, looking in detail at how to maximise value at every step, and these projects will also pioneer the use of cutting-edge technologies that serve the grid.”
‘£150 million boost’
Cllr Russ Bowden, leader of Warrington Borough Council, added: “The solar farms will secure our energy supply, give us control over our energy prices, contribute to reducing fuel poverty and generate an estimated operating surplus of £150 million over 30 years that can be invested back into the most important frontline services.
“Councils have a major role to play in helping to meet carbon emission reduction targets. These two sites are a working model that we hope other local authorities will follow.”