Britain’s first major Sun Park goes ‘live’ today

07 July 2011

Man surrounded by solar panels

Green energy pioneer, Ecotricity, completes construction of the UK’s first major solar park (1MW) which will also be the first project in the UK to capture the power of both the Sun and the Wind on one site.

Ecotricity sees a big role for hybrid Energy Parks such as this, however the potential for big solar projects like this one has been demolished by the Government’s emergency U-turn on FITs, which takes effect 1 Aug 2011 – effectively killing off big solar projects. 

 Ecotricity had plans for several more large-scale sun parks across the UK, which could also have been up and running in 2011.  The plans are now ‘in the bin’, as a result of the Coalition Government’s decision to pull the plug on big solar.

 “If this is the greenest Government ever, why are they strangling our solar industry at birth?  With a big question mark right now over nuclear power, and huge climate change targets to hit, this is a crazy step to take, especially in the name of saving money.  Indigenous sources of energy will save British taxpayers enormous sums of money in the coming decades – just last week energy prices rose by 10%, that’s £50 per year per household – contrast that with the measly £5 per year this government are willing to see spent on building our own energy sources.  If anything defines a False Economy it’s this.”, says Founder, Dale Vince.

The new 1MW Sun Park in Fen Farm in Lincolnshire, which goes ‘live’ today, will make enough green electricity for nearly 300 average homes each year for the next 25 years. Ecotricity’s wind park, on the same site near Louth on the Lincolnshire Fens, has 20 windmills generating 16 MW.  It has been producing enough green energy each year to power over 10,000 homes (each year), since 2008.

The ‘energy payback’ of the new Sun Park – the time it takes to repay the energy used to create the solar panels – is expected to be around two-and-a-half years, and they’ll keep producing clean energy for around 25 years.

The Sun Park has been part-funded using Ecotricity’s EcoBonds, in which customers and others could invest in green energy, cut out the big banks, and earn up to a 7.5% rate of return over four years.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said:

“Many countries in Europe have successful large scale solar industries, and the economic benefits that flow from that – all made possible through proper Feed in Tariff support.  It’s not just about green jobs and green industry, we need large scale solar as part of the UK’s energy mix, to make the UK more energy independent and reduce our carbon if this government is serious about being the greenest ever.”

“Only large scale solar installations can generate enough energy to make solar a serious part of Britain’s energy mix and provide the long term economic benefits which are evident in other countries.”

Germany has 17,000MW installed solar capacity compared to the UK’s 54MW. It is now a €10 billion industry in Germany and has created 133,000 jobs.

The installation of solar panels has no impact on the ground below (there is no concrete being used anywhere on site).  Solar panels are easily removable and almost completely recyclable at the end of their useful life, after more than 25 years of energy generation.

Notes To Editors

The Feed In Tariff – or FIT scheme has already been run successfully in over 50 other countries around the world, and is designed to stimulate the market and reward individuals/organisations generating energy from renewable sources including solar, small-scale wind, micro-hydro and biomass.

The Government’s retrospective introduction of a fixed cap in October 2010 is inconsistent with a price-based mechanism and has not been introduced by any other country that has a FiTs scheme in place (and there are 50 worldwide). It fatally undermines the efficacy of the FiT scheme as it removes certainty for investors, large and small.

The money for FITs does not come from Government, but is passed to energy users through their bills at around 70p per household per month. In October 2010, the government retrospectively imposed a cap on FITs payments of £230m, 10% less than the target originally forecast.

The reduction in tariff for solar PV installations between 250KW and 5MW to 8.5p per KW will effectively kill off investment in large scale solar PV. The Government’s aim of reducing project rates of return to just 5% is misguided, as this level is so low that no projects will proceed.

For more information, please contact:

Sophie Rivett-Carnac   07855 834 430

About Ecotricity

Ecotricity was founded 15 years’ ago as the world’s first green electricity company, and is a social enterprise with no shareholders to answer to. It is able to re-invest the money from customers’ bills back into building more new sources of renewable energy. 

It supplies 50,000 homes and businesses in the UK with Green Electricity and Green Gas, and is supported in its work by Oxfam and the Soil Association.

Ecotricity has built and operates 52 windmills at 16 Wind Parks across the UK, which together save over 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions going into the atmosphere every year.

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