Lightsource bp, a global leader in development and management of solar energy projects, has recently secured planning approval for a new solar farm near Castle Eden in Durham, UK.
This site is the latest to join Lightsource bp’s global portfolio of solar projects designed to supply businesses with renewable electricity through corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs). As well as providing corporate buyers with long-term price visibility and security, PPAs will also contribute to a company’s lower carbon operations and sustainability goals. In the UK, Lightsource bp has 300MW of solar projects with planning permission and a development pipeline of around a gigawatt. Part of the development process is to ensure sites are ready-to-build before going out to market for a PPA customer. This includes securing planning permission and access to the grid.
The 180-acre project named Hulam Solar Farm will have a power capacity of 50MW and will provide carbon emission savings of 16,040 tonnes every year, equivalent to taking 3,412 cars off the roads. The project will also be installed with bifacial solar panels to increase solar farm efficiency and energy production for corporate off-takers. This follows extensive field trials in a drive to create higher returns from solar through technological innovation. Other initiatives include the use of tracker axis panel mounting and storage solutions.
Alongside providing locally generated renewable energy, the Hulam solar farm has been designed to benefit the local environment. A bespoke Biodiversity Management Plan was submitted to the council as part of the application, to ensure the site is enhanced for local wildlife. This includes substantial landscape planting and seeding plans with a focus on native species, and the inclusion of bat and bird boxes around the site boundaries.
During the planning process, Lightsource bp hosted an information event, to allow members of the local community to view and discuss the planned proposal and offer any feedback they might have. The proposals were positively received, with 24 letters of support sent to the local council, many mentioning the benefits of the project in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a cleaner energy supply.
An additional complexity to the project was that being located within the distribution network operated by Northern Powergrid Lightsource bp had to overcome some engineering challenges to connect to the 66kV network – a first for the company.
Conor McGuigan, Director of Business Development for Europe, Lightsource bp said:
“We’re very pleased that our Hulam Solar Farm proposal has received planning approval. This project, and others like it, are an important part of the UK’s transition to a low-carbon future and offers an opportunity for businesses to secure predictably priced renewable electricity long term. Receiving approval for this site is a strong step towards meeting the global rise in energy demand efficiently and more sustainably.
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