THE first council- owned solar farm in the county has been officially switched.
The £5m Tangmere farm – the first of its kind in Sussex – was switched on today (October 7). Set on 25 acres of West Sussex County Council (WSCC) land east of Tangmere Airfield, it will generate enough energy to power 1,500 homes.
Electricity produced by the solar panels will be sold back into the National Grid, earning £13.8m over 20 years through the government’s feed-in-tariff scheme.
WSCC is setting up a power purchase agreement to use some of the electricity to power its corporate buildings, which it says will reduce the council’s energy bills.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I am delighted to see Tangmere solar farm up and running.
“This is a great example of local authorities taking a lead on innovative, sustain-able developments that make economic sense and benefit our residents.
“I’m also delighted to see Your Energy Sussex and Carillion have used a number of local companies to prepare the site and build the solar farm, which has benefited the local economy.”
A spokesman for WSCC said the solar farm was a key part of the council’s commitment to ‘making West Sussex a more sustainable place to live and work’, and would form part of a wider programme to install solar panels on business premises and social housing to provide low-cost, low-carbon electricity to tenants.
The project has been developed by Your Energy Sussex, a council partnership working with Carillion to reduce carbon emissions and save money.
Michael Brown, cabinet member for finance, added: “We want to use the income from this type of scheme to fund energy efficiency projects for our residents, particularly those on low and fixed incomes, and help them to stay warm and healthy in their homes.”
Sheep will also graze between the solar panels, helping with site maintenance once the solar farm is operational.
Planning permission for the solar farm has been granted for 25 years, after which time the site will be returned to its natural state.
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