Leicestershire County Council is taking forward plans to finance and construct its own 10MW solar farm, which it hopes will generate £720,000 per year once completed while mitigating the council’s emissions by over 100%.
Subject to approval, the scheme will be developed for £7.76 million on land owned by the council near the town of Quorn. It will be funded from the Asset Investment Fund as identified in the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2018/19-2021/22.
Along with the commercial units also under consideration by the council for rent, the entire scheme is expected to lead to an annual yield of 5.8% once business rates and operational and maintenance costs associated with the management of all four sites (£200,000 pa) are taken out.
With government subsidies for renewable energy decreasing, income for the Quorn Solar Farm is proposed to be generated from the sale of electricity to third parties. The council has said initial discussions are taking place with potential customers, but there is not yet a guarantee of entering into a contract with a customer/multiple customers.
Therefore income for the lifespan of the solar farm has yet to be secured, with the council intending to mitigate this risk by entering into contracts prior to progressing the development on site
In addition, the development would help meet the aims of a Core Strategy which would see at least 27.5MW of renewable or low carbon energy built.
The council is expected to carry out further financial analysis on the solar farm proposal and if approved, a planning application will be submitted for consideration in August 2018.
The plans support the conclusions of a report published by the Solar Trade Association this week which found that in the absence of national government policy, local authorties are now “leading the way” on solar in order to save money and provide stable sources of revenue, which are in turn are used to fund services.