Battery-connected community solar farms completed ahead of RO deadline

Two new £5m community solar farms have been connected to the grid in Stratford and Chesterfield, representing two of the last renewable energy projects to qualify for Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy entitlement.

Installed on former Defra land by energy efficiency solutions provider Anesco, the Stratford and Chesterfield Community Energy projects will generate a combined total of 8,696MWh of electricity each year – enough to power the equivalent of or more than 2,600 homes.

The solar farms are the only two community energy projects in the country to benefit from being connected to battery storage, with two 1200kWh systems set to store and release energy from the solar farms when it is most needed.

The Stratford and Chesterfield farms – expected to collectively save carbon emissions of 3,600 tonnes – are already live and connected to the grid, and therefore qualify for the RO subsidy scheme, which comes to an end for new projects at the end of the month.

Community support

The Stratford solar project covers an area of 11.8 hectares and will generate 4,696 MWh of electricity per year, while the Chesterfield solar array is approximately 11.6 hectares and will generate 4,000 MWh per year.

The projects will fund Stratford and Chesterfield Solar Arrays through the sale of £3.8m and £3.2m bonds respectively. Surplus profits from the sales will be placed into a community fund directly benefiting local people. The Stratford Hospital Appeal is set to receive £125,000 from Stratford Community Energy over the next 25 years, and around £15,000 will be given to local projects from Chesterfield Community Energy.

Members of the public are invited to purchase solar bonds for both solar farms, offering a return of 5% per annum that is paid every six months for the initial three-year term.

Anesco commercial director Delvin Lane said: “It’s been incredibly rewarding supporting projects that are not only benefitting the environment but also the local community. The groups chosen to support are doing fantastic work and we know they will put the funding to very good use.”

RO expiry

The announcement of the new solar farms represents what could be the last projects to benefit from the RO Scheme which will expire on Friday (1 April).

Earlier this week, edie reported on the construction of a new solar farm in Hampshire, with developers warning that the site may be the last utility scale-solar park built in the UK for some time due to the subsidy changes.

The decision to scrap the RO scheme has faced criticism from opposition parties and renewable energy experts who have said it could cost the UK up to £3bn in lost investments.

George Ogleby


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