The County Council’s solar farms are on track to deliver their projected long-term clean energy targets.
As Tangmere and Westhampnett solar farms reach their sixth and third birthdays respectively, the County Council’s performance tracking has revealed how its investment in clean energy is bearing fruit.
Figures for the 2020/21 financial year show that the 18,000 solar panels at Tangmere solar farm generated more than 5,235 MWh of clean electricity for the grid. This is 6% more than forecast.
Westhampnett solar farm, which is larger than Tangmere with 26,000 solar panels, weighed in with more than 7,285 MWh. This in line with modelling carried out before the solar farm was built in 2018.
The total 12,520 MWhs of clean electricity generated annually is enough to power more than 4,300 average homes for a year . Compared to generating this amount of electricity from non-renewable sources, such as fossil fuels, the solar farms prevented the release of almost 3,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of taking almost 1,700 average UK cars off the road for a whole year.
With both sites generating effectively, the County Council has seen an increase in the financial return which has helped offset the increase in energy costs to the authority caused by the current spike in wholesale gas prices.
Deborah Urquhart, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “We have established ourselves as clean energy pioneers in local government through our solar farms and other energy projects.
“It’s really exciting to see that Tangmere and Westhampnett sites are on track to deliver the environmental and financial benefits we expected, particularly at a time when there is an increased spotlight on action against climate change.”
In addition to its solar farms, the County Council has been quick to seize on developments in energy storage by installing batteries at Westhampnett solar farm. The 4MW installation can store surplus energy and release it to the national grid at times of peak demand.
This helps the grid to respond to fluctuations in energy supply and demand which can be caused by intermittent generation from renewables, such as wind and solar. By providing this service, the County Council is supporting the integration of more renewable energy generators and earning additional revenue.
In addition to the batteries at Westhampnett solar farm in 2018, the County Council is also developing a larger 12MW installation on a former waste site at Halewick Lane, Sompting and working to install battery systems in some of its schools and corporate buildings that already have solar panels fitted. The systems will store surplus clean energy generated by the solar panels so that it can be used to power the building when it is needed.
The authority installed solar panels on around 80 schools between 2017 and 2018. The systems have a total combined generation capacity equivalent to Tangmere solar farm.