Plans have been submitted by a subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council to build a subsidy-free solar farm at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks in Gloucestershire that would generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 350 homes for the year.
ublic Power Solutions (PPS), a subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council, has submitted a planning application to Cotswold District Council on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence to build a subsidy-free 1.4 MegaWatt peak (MWp) solar farm.
If approved, 5,200 solar panels will be installed on the 2.4-hectare site at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks, near Cirencester. The energy generated will be consumed onsite – accounting for around one-third of its total energy usage over a year – and is equivalent to powering 350 homes and will save approximately 400 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
Major General David Southall CBE, director of the Army’s Basing and & Infrastructure organisation, said: “We are very excited at the opportunity to drive greater sustainability into the Army estate. We remain wholly committed to becoming more energy efficient and this is an excellent example of the innovation we will harness to enable this.”
The Duke of Gloucester Barracks is currently home to the British Army’s 104 Logistic Support Brigade and 29 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps with approximately 550 personnel living and working there.
PPS will work alongside the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to deliver the project. It is the first of a pilot programme that will aim to add up to 6MWp of solar technology across four army sites in the UK over the next year. The army is attempting to green its estate in order to assist with the UK Government’s legally binding net-zero target for 2050.
Subsidy-free solar projects are “coming of age” thanks to the falling costs and flexibility of co-located battery storage technology, according to a report which claims that more than 5GW of solar capacity could be deployed in the UK without subsidies by 2030.
The study, conducted by Aurora Energy Research and commissioned by Wyelands Bank and renewable energy firm Anesco, concluded that the measure of the profitability of an investment discounted over the life of the project for projects deployed in 2020 is 6.6% to 7.6% under Aurora’s “base case market scenario. In comparison, the internal rates of return (IRR) for standalone solar and battery projects are 4%.
The country’s first subsidy-free solar farm, a 10MW facility, was opened last September in Bedfordshire. Other large-scale subsidy-free arrays in development include a 15MWp onsite project at the Westcott Venture Business Park in Aylesbury and Warrington Borough Council’s recently announced 62MW solar and 27MW battery storage project.
There are more than one million solar PV installations now in operation across the UK, the majority of which have been installed over the last decade. Recent government data, in fact, found that 99% of the current solar capacity in the UK became operational after 2010, and provided 12.9TWh of power in 2018, a 12% increase compared to 2017.
Globally, however, the market growth of renewables looks a little bleaker. A new report released this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit has found that growth in renewables over the next few years will not be fast enough to meet pledges made under the Paris Agreement.
The report forecasts that energy consumption will rise just 1.4% in 2020, but that non-hydro renewables generation will increase by 14%. However, this is not the required rate to meet the Paris Agreement, especially if the US re-elects Donald Trump on 3 November, which would allow him to complete the nation’s exit from the global climate accord.
Peter Kiernan, Chief Energy Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, added: “The use of renewables is being driven by the falling cost of the technology and government policies, including the use of competitive auctions in markets like India. Even so, global energy supply is still a long way from being decarbonised. The world will still depend mainly on fossil fuels in 2020, with rising use of natural gas and oil more than compensating for a slight decline for coal.”