Solar farm plan for county HQ gets green light

Ambitious plans to install a high-tech solar farm at the rear of County Hall have been given the go-ahead.

The green scheme, which could pay for itself through energy savings, will also involve creating 60 new electric vehicle charging points that will be built into the solar farm structure.

The solar farm will be suspended above the car parking spaces and provide around 40% of County Hall’s electricity needs. Combined with the solar panels already on the building’s roof, approximately half of County Hall’s annual power would come from the sun.

This equates to around 240 tonnes of carbon saved each year, supporting the council’s ongoing commitment to carbon reduction after it announced a climate emergency earlier this year.

The total budget for the scheme is £2.3m, which would be half funded through a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant and the other 50% paid for by the council.

The solar farm and carport could be up and running by the summer of 2021.

Council leader Peter Jackson said: “We’ve already made clear our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and this innovative scheme shows what can be achieved right on our doorstep.

“We know electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly popular and we want to encourage this take up by providing as many charging points as possible in the county.

“Assuming we get the 50% ERDF grant the energy savings from the project are expected to more than cover the cost of our initial investment.”
 
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