The Clayhill Solar Farm constitutes a 10 MW solar PV plant in Bedfordshire along with 6 MW of battery storage, developed by the UK-based developer Anesco. The company developed the project in partnership with asset management company Alcentra, without relying in any form of government scheme, like Contracts for Difference or Feed-in Tariffs, to subsidise the cost and increase the profitability of the plant. Planning permission for the 10 MW solar PV plant, along with the five battery storage units, was granted by Central Bedfordshire Council in 2015. The construction and installation of the project was completed in 12 weeks.
The solar panels and the battery storage units were supplied by the Chinese manufacturer BYD, while Huawei supplied its ‘ground-breaking’ 1,500 V inventers, marking the first time the ground-breaking 1,500 V inverters have been deployed in Europe.
The 10 MW solar PV plant will generate enough electricity for around 2,500 homes and save 4,452 tonnes of carbon.
One success element is said to be the fact that the new power project was built next to an existing solar project, near the town of Flitwick. Analysts argue that locating new projects next to ones that already benefit from subsidy schemes is a crucial factor to drive down costs. That makes a big difference because obviously a lot of the common infrastructure you need is already in place.
Another success element that drove the viability of the project up is that the solar panels are connected to giant batteries, which will store power and release it during peak demand, where electricity will be sold in a higher price.
Steve Shine OBE, Anesco’s Executive Chairman said: “For the solar industry, Clayhill is a landmark development and paves the way for a sustainable future, where subsidies are no longer needed or relied upon”. “Importantly, it proves that the Government’s decision to withdraw subsidies doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology”.
Anesco plans on using the Clayhill scheme to provide services to the National Grid, which pays private electricity generators to help stabilise the grid by absorbing excess power when needed.
Claire Perry MP, the UK Minister for Climate Change & Industry, today officially opened Anesco’s Clayhill solar PV plant and energy storage facility, he said: “The cost of solar PV panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the UK. Solar panels already provide enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes with 99% of that capacity installed since 2010. The Government is determined to build on this success and our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy will ensure we continue to lead the world on the transition to a low carbon economy.”