OPDE has completed the first phase of construction on three solar farms after having to break them up in to smaller developments following cuts to government subsidy.
The developments – located near Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire; Crewkerne in Somerset; and near Sittingbourne, Kent – were all intended to be 10MW each. However, following the government’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) to large scale solar projects above 5MW, OPDE chose to limit the sizes of each project.
A spokesperson told Solar Power Portal: “What we've done is split each site in to two phases where the first phase has been commissioned and the second phase is being commissioned now. The second phases are community schemes.”
The completion of the first phase means a combined capacity of 15MW will be achieved, with the remaining developments to be brought online once community funding has been secured. This has already been achieved for two of the projects.
Nottinghamshire Community Energy (NCE) announced on 29 January that it had completed its first share offer for the Colston Bassett site after raising £880,000. This follows a similar announcement by Orchard Community Energy in November, which closed its 2015 share offer after raising £526,000.
The future of the Crewkerne development in Somerset remains unclear.
According to OPDE’s spokesperson, the company was able to adapt quickly to incorporate the community funding element of the projects, with fundraising remaining the only challenge facing further development.
Despite this, he added that the second phases on the sites would be due for completion by mid-June.
The completions of the three 5MW projects follow OPDE being awarded planning permission for a further two site of the same size, although these have yet to be commissioned.