Building work has started at Barnfield Solar Park, Swindon, which will be connected directly by private wire to the Swindon household waste recycling centre to power the plant and the depot, making a substantial saving on its annual energy bills.
Public Power Solutions (PPS), a wholly owned company of Swindon Borough Council, developed the 2.5 MW project on the council-owned former landfill site adjacent to the recycling centre at Cheney Manor. As well as saving the Council money on the energy costs of operating the plant, Barnfield will be one of the last solar farms to benefit from UK government support, and will be eligible to receive 1.2 ROCs (the government’s renewable electricity subsidy). Overall the project will generate an additional income for Swindon Borough of approximately £200,000 a year.
The recycling centre houses the UK’s first Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) Plant for municipal waste which is now diverting 97% of Swindon’s domestic rubbish from landfill and producing a valuable energy-generating resource which is displacing fossil fuels. The facility was completed in 2014.
Sean Magee, Head of Waste Solutions, PPS, said: “Being able to operate our SRF plant using solar energy from Barnfield is truly an innovative step forward in our sustainability. Not only is this the right thing to do, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, it will also benefit us financially by bringing down the running costs of the plant.
“We’re also looking at further technology development such as energy storage (batteries), so that even when light levels are low we can still operate the plant with renewable energy.”
Steve Cains, Head of Power Solutions, PPS, said: “This is a fantastic example of the circular economy in action. The waste centre processes around 60,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from Swindon households converting it to renewable fuel; and in future that work will mainly be powered by renewable energy generated next to the site.
“PPS is leading the way in developing innovative energy solutions for local authorities, and with government support no longer available for solar, we expect to work on many more private wire developments like this which deliver substantial cost savings to the end users.”
Construction started on the week beginning 30 January, and is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks. The new solar farm also helps Swindon move even closer to its goal to install 200MW of renewable capacity by 2020, enough to meet the equivalent electricity requirements of every home in the Borough.