Ecotricity gains planning permission for ‘future of energy’ hybrid parks

Green energy provider Ecotricity has gained planning permission to create some of the first hybrid energy parks in Britain, by combining current wind farms with two new "sun parks" in Devon and Leicestershire respectively.

Alongside the two parks, permission has also been granted to extend Britain’s first hybrid energy park at Fen Farm in Lincolnshire by an extra 5MW of solar capacity. A total of 18,000 solar panels will be installed at each site, powering more than 1,000 homes, with each saving nearly 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Ecotricity claim that by using combined wind and sun generation in the same project and grid connection, hybrid energy parks have to potential to provide a more efficient and cost-effective approach to renewable energy generation. Ecotricity founder Dale Vince believes hybrid technology is the “future of energy in Britain”.

“The combination of the wind and the sun makes for a more consistent energy supply – and the potential for Britain’s energy independence is huge,” Vince said. “Ecotricity is approaching 100MW of generation capacity from the wind and the sun now, and we’ll be adding Green Gas Mills to that next year, making green gas from grass– together that’s a blueprint for Britain.”   

‘Going backwards’

The green supplier also plans to improve the biodiversity across each project, by creating species-rich grassland and planting native hedgerows in the local area. Vince warned that industry efforts to improve the outlook of the renewables sector were being threatened by current Government energy policy.

“Wind and solar made up around 13% of the UK’s entire electricity generation last year – while all renewables together contributed 25% – but we need to be doing more,” Vince said. “The current Government has cut support for both the wind and solar industries, yet has promised to give nuclear a subsidy at twice the market price for 35 years and has increased support for the oil and gas industries – it’s a Government going backwards on climate change.”

Ecotricity has been at the forefront of criticism aimed at the Conservative Government’s green policy ‘U-turns’, with a campaign that included a ‘#PantsOnFire’ video mocking the Prime Minister’s environmental record, which has 41,000 hits on YouTube.

The company also took its first step into the UK domestic solar market last month, with the acquisition of the home rooftop solar business of troubled US company SunEdison.

A report earlier this month by supplier SmartestEnergy revealed an increase in independent solar generation of 83% in 2015, with 696 projects providing more than 2GW of capacity, despite numerous Government cuts to solar subsidies.

George Ogleby

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