Solar panels take to the water as new farms flourish
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Tower Bridge, the Old Bailey and Smithfield Market are among the iconic London landmarks that will be powered by renewable electricity from a new solar farm in Dorset. The move comes thanks to a £40million agreement between the City of London Corporation — which governs the “Square Mile” at the heart of the capital — and international energy provider Voltalia. As part of the agreement, the City Corporation will be purchasing all of the electricity produced by the solar farm for the next 15 years, starting on January 1 next year.
The new solar farm, construction of which has already been completed, is expected to be capable of meeting more than half of the City Corporation’s electricity needs.
The site has more than 91,000 solar panels and a capacity of 49.9 megawatts — the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of approximately 35,000 people.
According to the City Corporation, it will help slash fossil fuel usage in the Square Mile, while also saving more than £3million in energy costs each year.
Other famous sites in the City to be powered by the scheme will include the Barbican Centre, Guildhall and Hampstead Heath.
Part of the solar farm project has been the investment of £800,000 with companies located within 25 miles of the site, helping to support local businesses.
Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc said: “The completion of South Farm is a great achievement. I would like to warmly thank all the Voltalia teams and our local British suppliers and subcontractors, who have been working together on this project.
“In the current energy crisis, we are very proud to supply clean and cheap electricity to some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
“With this 15-year contract we are actively supporting the City Corporation in mitigating its energy budget volatility and reaching its net zero target.”
The City Corporation has been sourcing 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources, via existing infrastructure, since 2018.
However, they said, the so-called Power Purchase Agreement is the first of its kind in the UK to be signed directly between a renewable energy provider and a governing authority.
As a major London public services provider, the Corporation runs schools, social housing, open spaces and wholesale markets across the capital.
All of these, the City Corporation explained, will receive renewably-sourced electricity from the South Farm solar site.
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The new deal is part of the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy, through which it has committed to ensuring it reaches net zero emissions in its operations by the year 2027, and in its investments and supply chain by 2040.
The Corporation is also looking to support the achievement of net zero emissions for the whole of the Square Mile by the same year.
The City Corporation manages more than 11,000 acres of open space across London and south-east England, including Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and more than 200 smaller sites located within the Square Mile itself.
These green spaces, the Corporation said, remove some 16,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year — equivalent to 44 percent of their annual carbon footprint.
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