By Kelly Wickham
Solar farms developed by West Sussex County Council are generating more clean electricity than expected and delivering greater than predicted environmental and financial benefits.
Tangmere solar farm, the first of its kind to be developed by the county council under its energy strategy, has just celebrated its fourth birthday and continues to out-perform original predictions.
According to generation figures for the 2018/19 financial year, the 5MW solar farm produced 5,267 MWh of clean electricity and prevented the release of 1,843 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This was enough additional clean electricity to power a further 108 homes and bring in £52,000 in extra income.
The performance of the 7.4MW Westhampnett solar farm, opened on a former landfill site in October, 2018, is also well on track. It generated 1,775 MWh of clean electricity in just a few months, delivered a 545-tonne carbon saving and a financial return five per cent above predictions.
Westhampnett is the first publicly owned solar farm to be built with large on-site batteries which store surplus electricity, which is fed into the grid when needed.
The batteries help to balance supply and demand on the electricity grid, a service which provides additional income to the council.
Mr Steve Read, acting executive director for place services, said: “We aim to lead by example by generating clean energy and improving the energy efficiency of our own buildings.
“We already generate more renewable electricity than we use in carrying out our core county council functions, excluding schools and street lighting, and expect to increase this generation capacity further as more projects come on stream in the years ahead.”
In addition to its large solar farms, the county council is coming to the end of its programme to install solar panels on more than 80 schools. These installations will reduce overall annual carbon emissions by 1,300 tonnes and, on average, save £2,000 off each school’s annual energy bill.
For information on making a climate pledge, visit: westsussex.gov.uk/campaigns/make-your-climate-pledge/ or email: WSClimatePledge@westsussex.gov.uk