Green energy development costs ‘spiralling’

This is what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed.

Projected image of what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council must borrow an extra £1million for a solar renewable energy development at a park and ride as the scheme becomes more expensive than predicted.

The higher costs for the scheme at Babraham Road Park and Ride are due to the volatility in the market and supply chains, which has led to increased costs for construction projects.

At a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee on December 16, councillors were told that an additional £1.2m would need to be borrowed for the project, with the capital cost to complete the project now estimated to be just over £6.2m.

This is what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed.

This is what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed. - Credit: CAMBS COUNTY COUNCIL

The Babraham Smart Energy Grid is planned to include 4,572 solar modules mounted on solar carports.

A report presented to councillors said that the site will generate the equivalent electricity as used by 756 households annually and will prevent 6,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the 30-year lifetimes of the project.

According to the table in the report, the capital cost to complete the project was estimated to be £5,795,386 in March this year and in November it was estimated to be £6,234,892

The electricity generated at the site will be used by up to 140 electric vehicle charging points at the site, and the county council also plans to sell the electricity to the Cambridge University Hospital Trust.

This is what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed.

This is what the Babraham Smart Energy Grid at Babraham Road Park and Ride in Cambridge could look like once completed. - Credit: CAMBS COUNTY COUNCIL

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Work has already been undertaken to install a private direct wire, to make the site ready for the solar modules and charging points.

Council officers also highlighted that while construction costs had increased, the cost of electricity had also increased which they said had a “positive” effect on the business case for the development, however recognised the price of electricity in the future is uncertain.

Councillor Brian Milnes, said he welcomed the report, but was “disappointed” that the costs had “escalated so much”.

He said: “The supply chain costs are just spiralling, which is a huge disappointment because obviously it impacts the business case.

“That may have some relief in the price of the electricity we are selling, that is hopefully likely to be temporary, whereas the costs will have to be amortised over the period of the development.

“However, I think we should welcome this as a major contribution and a very visible contribution to our green to the core policies, so I welcome that.”

The chair of the committee, Councillor Lorna Dupré added: “This is yet another excellent and important scheme towards helping us decarbonise across our own estate and across Cambridgeshire as a whole.”