Launch of new solar farm in Soham will help to energise our future

PUBLISHED: 13:11 20 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:11 20 June 2017

A new 12MW solar farm built by Cambridgeshire County Council was officially launched in Soham on Monday (June 19).

A new 12MW solar farm built by Cambridgeshire County Council was officially launched in Soham on Monday (June 19).

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A new 12MW solar farm built by Cambridgeshire County Council was officially launched in Soham on Monday (June 19).

With 45,000 photovoltaic panels across 70 acres, the solar farm will generate enough electricity to supply more than 3,000 homes each year – and has the option of sheep grazing to keep the grass low. It will also avoid the release of 123,000 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime.

Subject to completion of final commissioning, this is the first local authority project in England to receive Contracts for Difference (CfD), a finance incentive for the energy generated, and will create £1 million revenue a year from an initial investment of £9 million.

The success of the solar farm has inspired the county council’s ambitious corporate energy strategy, which can change the way services are designed and change how they manage their buildings and land assets to generate income, reducing both energy usage and carbon emissions.

Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the Economy and Environment committee, said: “When I talk to our communities they are rightly keen that we spend our money wisely and by finding a way to create income, these extra millions can be spent on much used frontline services. This county council solar park project is a great investment as it means we are producing renewable energy and income while reducing the need either to make cuts or ask our residents to make up the shortfall through additional taxes.” Bouygues E&S FM UK Limited (Bouygues Energies & Services), Savills, Local Partnerships and the Low Carbon Contracts Company all partnered with Cambridgeshire County Council to build the large-scale solar farm which is now generating electricity.

Sean Hanson, Local Partnerships’ chief executive, said: “Cambs has been a pioneer within the RE:FIT programme and has successfully delivered a number of energy efficiency and generation projects across its estate. This solar park project is a fantastic example of innovation and ambition that is currently helping to deliver the council’s future energy strategy.”

Hugo Mallaby, the council’s asset manager (rural) added: “We are extremely proud the council’s farms estate can contribute towards the council’s broader energy reduction strategy and to making the best use of its assets.”

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