Award-winning solar in the spotlight

With the recent bout of sunny weather, solar power’s contribution to carbon-free energy has been in the spotlight. And none more so than for West...

Award-winning solar in the spotlight

With the recent bout of sunny weather, solar power’s contribution to carbon-free energy has been in the spotlight. And none more so than for West Sussex County Council (WSCC) who, along with npower Business Solutions (nBS), has this week won an award for a first-of-a-kind solar-farm at Westhampnett, near Chichester.

The 7.4MW installation on a former landfill site become the UK’s first-ever subsidy-free solar farm operated by a local authority when it went live in 2018. 

Then on Wednesday (16 June 2021), the project won a Special Award for Contribution to Net Zero (Highly Commended) in the Association of Decentralised Energy Awards.

Ensuring a good return on investment

At nBS, our role from the outset has been to support WSCC to create a strong business case for the project – which includes co-located battery storage – and then ensure a healthy operational financial return from their assets. 

As their chosen aggregator, we devised a strategy to optimise potential revenue streams from a technical, commercial and operational perspective. 

This includes participation in National Grid’s frequency services (a key revenue stream for the battery), together with securing Capacity Market contracts, price arbitrage in the wholesale energy market and Triad management. This is all supported by a flexible Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the battery and solar farm.

As a result, the project contributes financial as well as environmental benefits for WSCC.

Environmental and financial benefits

As part of the council’s net zero strategy, the 26,000 solar panels generate nearly 8,000MWh of carbon-free energy each year, saving around 2,328 tonnes in carbon emissions. 

Then from a revenue-generation perspective, the project also delivers many thousands in monthly income for WSCC. 

In addition, the Westhampnett solar farm has generated lots of positive feedback too. 

For example, Louise Goldsmith, former WSCC leader, said: "This hits so many buttons in the fact that it's green, it’s clean, it’s a use of land that is not going to be used elsewhere, we're putting energy into the grid that is needed nationally and we're also making some money on it. So on ticking every box, it really does that." 

You can read more about the project here, in our case study.

Next week, we’ll also be sharing lots more reports and insight on the benefits of solar generation as part of Solar Week. So do be sure to check our social media steams on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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