The small village of Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire is now home to the UK’s first solar-powered waste treatment plant after Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd joined forces with Solarcentury to install a 5MW solar park.

The 20,000 solar modules will generate around 4,500MWh of electricity a year that will be fed into AmeyCespa’s Mechanical Biological Treatment plant. The solar park will provide enough energy to cover around 70 percent of the plant’s electricity demand.   

Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury said: “We are all incredibly excited about this project.  Rather than the plant being connected to export into the grid, there has been significant engineering work to provide 3km of cabling from the plant running directly to local waste management company AmeyCespa.”

He added: “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.”

Lighsource Renewable Energy was able to agree to a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the treatment plant that will allow the plant to purchase clean, stable electricity as a negotiated price for the 25-year lifespan of the project.  

Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource Renewable Energy said: “It goes without saying that energy prices are set to continue to rise in the coming years. According to current UK Power Index estimates from DECC, we are set to experience a 5-8 percent increase per annum from conventional suppliers. Aside from the expense, if you are in heavy industry or the public sector, the unpredictability of fossil fuel electricity costs can make budgeting and planning for the future virtually impossible. However, PPAs through Lightsource have now become a proven way to eliminate much of this uncertainty and cut energy costs.”

Boyle explained: “Our PPAs are proving attractive because they provide much needed pricing certainty coupled with a significant reduction in electricity bills. As we own our plants, we specify only premium equipment and maintain it to the highest possible standards. This ensures optimum output and supply to our clients. We create a high quality, appropriate and hassle free solar solution for any business or property owner.  Our newly completed plant here at Chittering is a prime example of how Lightsource can develop solar solutions that work for the local community.”

Sarah Clover, Account Director for AmeyCespa East, explained why the company chose to turn to renewable energy to power the plant: “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.”