Battery plans and solar farms creating a buzz

Solar farms developed by West Sussex County Council are generating more clean electricity than expected and delivering greater than predicted environmental and financial benefits.

The news comes during ‘Save Energy’ month – part of the county council’s Climate Pledge, designed to encourage residents to make small changes in their daily lives that collectively will help combat climate change.

The first county council-owned solar farm was switched on in 2015 in Tangmere

The first county council-owned solar farm was switched on in 2015 in Tangmere

Tangmere solar farm, the first of its kind to be developed by the county council under its energy strategy, was switched on in 2015.

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 county council said. A spokesman added the performance of the Westhampnett solar farm, opened on a former landfill site in October, 2018, was also well on track.

Westhampnett is the first publicly owned solar farm to be built with large on-site batteries to 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 county council.

Steve Read, acting executive director for place services, said: “We aim to lead by example by generating clean energy across our estate 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 at more than 80 schools, which will reduce overall annual carbon emissions by 1,300 tonnes and, on average, save £2,000 off each school’s annual energy bill.

The county council plans to develop other large energy projects that will support renewable energy in the county, including a large battery storage facility on a former waste site at Halewick Lane in Sompting.

For more information, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/campaigns/make-your-climate-pledge