The major energy company agreed the deal with British Solar Renewables (BSR) today (18 January) to source renewable energy from the 69.8MW peak capacity Bradenstoke solar plant in Wiltshire – the largest project of its type in England and second largest in the UK.

Shell Energy Europe will sell the supply to UK customers seeking to meet their own energy and low-carbon demands.

“The UK is one of our key markets for power and we’ve been exploring ways to increase our power presence in the country on both the buy and sell side,” Shell’s North West Europe general manager Jonathan McCloy said. “The deal with BSR helps us achieve this goal and is a significant boost to our renewable power portfolio in the UK.”

The Bradenstoke plant is operated by BSR and owned by Siem Europe SARL. The plant is fitted with 269,000 solar panels that cover the 213-acre site. The plant generates approximately 65GWh of solar energy annually, saving more than 21,000 tonnes of carbon emissions as a result.

The two firms have agreed a five-year power purchasing agreement (PPA) that strengthens Shell’s venture into the UK household utility sector.

BSR’s chief financial officer Graham Harding added: “PPAs provide stability in a volatile energy market and we are delighted that we have been able to work with Shell Energy Europe to complete this five-year agreement, which will enhance the value of the largest solar park in England.”

Residential revolution

While Shell Energy Europe represents 14 European power markets, it has made major strides in the last few months to increase its influence in the UK. Shell is opening a range of rapid charging service systems across its UK petrol stations, with plans already in place to deploy more charging infrastructure by the end of the year. The firm is undergoing a similar initiative with fully-branded hydrogen refuelling stations.

In December, Shell agreed to purchase 100% of UK household energy and broadband provider First Utility, and its German subsidiary. Once completed, the deal with give Shell a 3% share of the UK residential energy market.

The company is also making moves in the US. Last week, Shell announced plans to acquire a 43% stake in Silicon Ranch solar developers.

At a global level, Shell has doubled its spending on clean power and bowed to shareholder pressure by promising to halve the carbon footprint of the energy it sells by 2050.

Despite the pledge, Royal Dutch Shell announced this week that it would invest in North Sea projects for the first time in six years. It is believed the investment will increase the company’s UK oil production by a third.

Matt Mace

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