Hybrid solar/storage farms to power Warrington Council
Solar developer GRIDSERVE has handed over what it calls the UK’s most advanced – and subsidy-free – solar farm, located outside York, to Warrington Borough Council.
The 35 MWp solar farm is pioneering a new commercial model using 30 MWh of battery storage and sophisticated technologies to maximise revenues and help balance the grid, says the company.
The project demonstrates how local authorities can partner with developers to deliver projects to supply clean electricity and generate income for councils, without government subsidy, adds GRIDSERVE.
In addition to the York project, Warrington Borough Council is also purchasing a second, 26 MWp solar farm at Hull, which is due to be handed over early this year. GRIDSERVE will operate and maintain both projects over their lifetimes.
Warrington expects the two projects to generate an operating surplus of over £100mn over 30 years. Electricity from York solar farm will be sold on the open market, while Hull will supply all the council’s energy needs. The deal will make it the first local authority to produce all its own electricity.
The York project was completed in just five months, with GRIDSERVE installing more than 90,000 solar panels, 30 MWh of batteries and 500 km of cable on the 80 ha site.
The project is said to be the first UK solar farm to use ‘bifacial’ solar panels, which generate electricity on both sides, and the first large-scale UK project to use trackers to follow the sun, maximising generation over the whole day.
The scheme is able to control energy flows to maximise income and support the grid. A Lithium ion battery storage system and a two-way grid connection allow the project to store electricity to achieve better power prices, and provide services that help National Grid balance supply and demand. GRIDSERVE also plans to build the first of a network of ‘electric forecourt’ charging stations adjacent to the site.
York solar farm has been built on low grade agricultural land at Boscar Grange, near Easingwold, north of York, says GRIDSERVE, which is looking to develop more sites. CEO Toddington Harper said: ‘We’ve completely rethought the solar model to maximise value, and we’ve now demonstrated that we have what it takes to make projects like this a reality.’