A PPA agreement has been signed with Vodafone UK. Image: Centrica.

Centrica Business Solutions has opened its first UK solar farm in Wiltshire with a capacity of 18MW.

The 18MW Codford Solar Farm based has become the company’s first major solar asset in the UK with power generation currently underway. This contributes to the company’s plan to extend its portfolio further into flexible energy assets with eyes for 900MW of low-carbon assets by 2026.

Codford Solar Farm consists of 33,000 panels and should be capable of producing around 19GWh of green electricity per year. Construction began at the site in April 2022, after the consent was acquired by Centrica Business Solutions in 2021.

A power purchase agreement (PPA) has also been signed with telecommunications giant Vodafone UK which will account for around 9GWh of green electricity transmitted. The remainder will then be sold into the national grid via Centrica’s Energy Marketing & Trading business.

“Centrica is a uniquely integrated energy company well positioned to both drive, and benefit from, the energy transition. I’m delighted that we’re now back building assets, focussing on clean electricity generation and storage,” said Chris O’Shea, CEO of Centrica.

“That integration stretches from the construction of new generating assets such as Codford to the movement of power across Europe and we’ve rapidly built a reputation as a leading player in European energy markets, supporting grid operators with sourcing the power they need to maintain a secure supply and supporting organisations such as Vodafone to help reach its net zero ambitions.”

This however is not the first PPA agreement between Vodafone and Centrica. In February 2023, Solar Power Portal reported that Centrica signed its second PPA agreement with Vodafone and Mytilineos for 232MW.

The deal covers generation from five sites with a total capacity of 232MW, located in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Buckinghamshire and Dorset. In total, the sites are expected to generate 216GWh of electricity once operational.

The PPA followed the three companies signing a similar agreement in May 2022 for the output of three solar farms in the UK. These sites – located in Lincolnshire, Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire – have a capacity of 110MW and were completed at the end of 2022.

“Achieving net zero for our UK operations by 2027 is a critical part of our company strategy, and making our network as energy efficient as possible, and powering it sustainably, play a key role,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer and chair of Vodafone’s Net Zero Steerco.

“We already use 100% renewable electricity, and we’re committed to supporting the development of UK renewables. Thanks to power purchase agreements like this one, a significant proportion of our energy requirement will be generated in the UK by 2025. Such agreements also bring additional renewable power to the UK grid, and so are good for the country too.”