Cambridgeshire gets UK’s first solar-powered waste treatment plant

5MW solar park for Cambridgeshire waste treatment plant

by James Martin II on September 27, 2012

The small town of Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire is now home to the United Kingdom’s waste treatment plant powered (mostly) by solar energy. The 5 megawatt (MW) solar park will supply 70% of the AmeyCespa Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant’s power via 3km of cabling.

In an approach slightly different from many large-scale solar projects, which are generally established as investments and base their financial viability on Feed-in Tariff incentives or Renewable Obligation Certificates, the purpose of the Waterbeach solar array is to power the waste plant directly, offsetting its electricity bills. The AmeyCespa plant has negotiated a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to purchase electricity from the solar park at a fixed rate in order to insulate it against the effects of electricity price inflation. Unlike conventional sources of electricity such as coal or gas plants, once operational, solar PV systems have very low maintenance costs and no fuel costs. PPAs like this are expected to become more common with electricity prices on the rise across the UK, and the cost of solar PV installations coming down.

Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel, whose company was involved in the design and installation of the plant, commented on the nature of this arrangement:  “Unlike most utility scale ground mounted solar plants in the country, this solar plant prioritises the use of electricity by AmeyCespa’s facilities first, with minimal excess energy being fed back into the national grid. We expect to see many more commercial projects of this nature in the future as organisations become increasingly aware of fixed, low cost solar power.”

Account Director Sarah Clover explained AmeyCespa decided to opt for renewable energy to meet its power needs. “As a company which provides itself not only on innovation, but working closely with the communities in which we are based, AmeyCespa is delighted to be involved in this partnership to make use of a local source of renewable energy. Minimising our impact on the environment is at the heart of everything we do, and using solar energy to power one of our key facilities demonstrates our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.”

Source: SolarPowerPortal

© 2012 Solar Selections Ltd

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