The solar farm is “crucial” to meeting the university’s 2030 net zero carbon target. Image: SSE

A 12.2MW solar farm is to be developed on the University of Surrey’s land to the west of Guilford to help the university meet its net zero by 2030 target.

It forms part of a partnership between the university and SSE Energy Solutions, which will see the university step up its on-site renewable energy generation from 0.1% to 20% of total annual demand. Previously announced as a 5MWp site, the solar farm will also create an opportunity to enhance the surrounding biodiversity of the land with wildflower planting, nature corridors, hedgerow expansion and bug hotels.

The interaction between solar PV and the land it's built on – including the potential benefits to biodiversity and animal habitats – was detailed in a recent feature article for sister publication PV Tech. 

Meanwhile, Solar Energy UK released best practice guidance on boosting the natural capital of solar farms in May, finding that solar farms can help reverse Britain’s declining wildlife through animal habitat enhancements and help land recover from intensive farming.

The solar farm on the University of Surrey's land is to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 1,110 tonnes per year.

Pieter D’haen, senior development manager from SSE Energy Solutions, said: “Now more than ever it is essential to accelerate the indigenous generation of clean energy to enhance the national security of energy supply and the University of Surrey project is a great example of what communities can do to play their part.”

The development of the farm follows SSE announcing a £12.5 billion capital investment plan to accerelate progress towards net zero last year, with this to see SSE deliver over a quarter of the UK’s 40GW offshore wind target by 2030 and over 20% of the upcoming electricity networks investment in the UK, according to the company.

This plan would also see the energy company double its existing renewables net installed capacity to 8GW, while amassing a sustainable renewables development pipeline in excess of 15GW. Earlier this year, SSE acquired a portfolio of European onshore wind development projects that included scope for 1GW of additional co-located solar development opportunities.