Solar developer Elgin Energy is planning a 23MW solar farm at the site of a former RAF airfield in Gloucester, claiming that it could become one of the UK’s first subsidy-free projects.
Elgin intends to develop the solar farm on land near Tetbury which used to comprise Babdown Airfield. Letters addressed to local residents have introduced the plans as being in their formative stages.
The letter does however note that while projects of this size would previously have been eligible for subsidy support, the withdrawal of them had not deterred the company and that Elgin intends for the Babdown Airfield project to be “one of the first subsidy-free projects in the country”.
With the RO now closed to new applicants and solar all but excluded from future Contracts for Difference rounds, there are currently no subsidies available for large-scale solar in the UK.
While most estimates place the UK as remaining several years away from grid parity, a number of developers are investigating ways in which large-scale projects could be built without subsidy in the coming years. In December Hive Energy confirmed that it was progressing with planning applications for sites it intended to build without subsidies by 2020, while Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle said his company was preparing subsidy-free developments for this year.
Developers are investigating numerous ways in which to build projects at grid-parity, including achieving costs savings through purchasing at scale, developing sites with minimal land and connection costs as well as distributing generated electricity to nearby businesses through private-wire PPAs.
Elgin Energy has yet to respond to requests for comment on this story, nor has it divulged any information as to how the Babdown Airfield project will be developed in the absence of subsidy support.
The project will however deliver several community benefits if it goes ahead. As well as educational visits for local schools, Elgin has confirmed it is looking into a possible electricity savings scheme whereby local residents will be able to benefit from reduced bills through a community fund.
Residents of Kingscote Parish Council have been invited to view the proposals at Beverston Village Hill on 28 January.