Warrington Borough Council will become the first local authority to produce all its own electricity from green energy, following a landmark funding deal that will see them own two solar farms.
Following the deal with Investec Bank and Leapfrog Finance, the council expects the two sites, a 34.7MWp hybrid solar farm in York and a 25.7MWp solar farm in Hull, will generate ‘millions of pounds’ in profits every year for 30 years.
The two solar farms will involve a number of ‘firsts’ for the UK solar industry as the 27MW lithium-ion battery storage system at York will be the largest at any UK solar farm.
They will also be the first large-scale UK projects to use trackers which follow the sun, maximising generation over the whole day, and minimising price cannibalisation risk from solar farms with fixed position solar panels which typically produce peak output at the same time each day.
The Hull solar farm will supply all the council’s electricity needs and cut its energy bills by up to £2m a year.
Warrington Borough Council has agreed to pay £62.34m for the two assets and will take ownership when they are operational. Gridserve will operate and maintain the solar farms on behalf of the council.
Leader of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Russ Bowden said: ‘This deal is good news for Warrington residents and good news for the environment. The solar farms will secure our energy supply, give us control over our energy prices, contribute to reducing fuel poverty and generate an estimated operating surplus of £150m over 30 years that can be invested back into the most important frontline services.’
As part of the funding deal with social impact investor Leapfrog Finance, the council will invest £85,000 a year from the projects into a community benefit fund aimed at delivering social and environmental outcomes in Warrington. Gridserve will also make a £100,000 contribution to fund specific initiatives associated with the fund’s goals.