Yorkshire Water enlists the help of Downing to develop a £25 million solar portfolio. Image: Getty Images.

Yorkshire Water is set to decarbonise its operations via a £25 million portfolio made up of 28 solar sites.

To achieve this, the utility company has enlisted the support of investment and asset manager Downing LLP to develop, design and build a solar portfolio with a generation capacity of around 21MW.

Once completed, the project will directly contribute to Yorkshire Water’s 2030 net zero pledge aiming to deploy up to 120MW of solar by 2030 alongside a minimum of 30% of all electricity use coming from onsite renewables.

“This project is a significant step in reaching our aims of carbon net zero by 2030. Due to changes in the treatment process at our sites over recent years, many have been left with surplus operational land which can be used for the generation of renewable energy,” said Daniel Oxley, commercial programme manager at Yorkshire Water.

“These have been identified and will become home to new solar panel arrays. Once completed, the first deployment of solar panels will generate 4% of our annual power needs, increasing our renewable energy use, reducing our exposure to energy price volatility and reducing the operational costs of our sites, which will provide better value for money for our customers.”

Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust outlined in its 2020 Prospectus plans to raise £200 million to develop a portfolio of renewables including solar PV.

This emphasis on solar generation led to Downing securing multiple deals to develop sites across the UK. In March 2021, the firm stated it had acquired a 96MWp portfolio of UK solar PV assets for £42 million.

The portfolio is made up of 13 ground-mount sites across mainland Britain with a total capacity of c.73MWp, 28 commercial rooftops with a capacity of c.10MWp and seven residential rooftop portfolios across Northern Ireland with a total capacity of c.13MWp.

Downing’s latest project with Yorkshire Water aims to continue the company’s strong solar portfolio whilst showcasing the benefits of responsible investment as the world races towards net zero targets.

 “We’re delighted to be partnering with Yorkshire Water for this solar project. Assisting a national utility company with its goal of reaching net zero by 2030 is a superb example of Downing’s commitment to responsible investing,” said Sean Moore, investment director at Downing.

“We are delighted to support energy-intensive industries such as water companies in making progressive strides to reduce their carbon footprint.”

The company’s strong asset performance drove its profit on investments 16.9% above expectations earlier this year, with portfolio generation 4.7% above expectations at 195GWh. As such the firm is expected to take a greater market share in the coming years as it builds its renewable portfolio.