One of the largest solar farms under local authority ownership is proving to have been a successful investment after generating more than £1.3 million of income in its second year.
Forest Heath District Council spent almost £14.5 million on the 12.4MW Toggam Farm solar project in 2016, which performed marginally better than expected in its first year.
The local authority has now revealed that in the 12 months to July 2018 this was repeated after the site generated 12,258MWh, over 600MWh more than estimated.
As well as helping Forest Heath establish itself as a carbon neutral council, the solar farm has also delivered significant levels of income from selling generation into the national grid and through the RO.
Once operating costs and the recouping of some of the council’s original investment are taken into account, Toggam Farm has generated £372,600 to be used to fund council services – compared to an expected £330,000.
“I am proud of this investment and what it will help us achieve on behalf of our communities for many years to come,” said Cllr Stephen Edwards, cabinet member for resources and performance at Forest Heath District Council.
“More importantly, it has taken capital, which can’t be used to simply prop up the costs of our day to day services as eventually it would run dry, and it has created a decent level of annual income – income which we know will rise significantly over the years.”
According to Edwards, this business case gave councillors “of all political persuasion” the confidence to vote in favour of the investment. He added that by its tenth year income is expected to reach around £700,000, delivering a net return of around 5% after running costs and capital investment repayment is taken into account.
“That money in turn will help toward funding the everyday public services that we provide and that we know our residents and businesses hold dear,” he added.