“Split ownership” solar farm to be built in Swindon

Swindon Borough Council’s energy company has announced it is building the first split ownership solar farm in the country.

Public Power Solutions’ project at Braydon Manor Farm will be operated as a split ownership scheme with Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy (WWCE) owning 5 MW.

The remaining 4.1 MW will be in private ownership.

In January, Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy, an initiative of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, raised over £2.9 million from a public share offer to fund its share of the project.

Construction began this month and the 5MW community-owned site is expected to be connected to the grid by January. 

It will generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 1,400 homes and save over 2,500 tonnes of carbon a year.

“This is a perfect example of a shared ownership solar project – with the private and public sector and local community all working together successfully to help meet local and national renewable energy targets and cut carbon emissions, as well as achieving great local financial and ecological benefits,” said James Owen, Commercial Director, Public Power Solutions.

Public Power Solutions has now developed over 65MW of ground-mounted solar in Swindon and nearby, and is rolling out its expertise and experience to help other public sector organisations who want to make the most of their renewable energy assets.

“Solar should be a no-brainer for local authorities, helping them generate revenue through rent, business rates and investment opportunities, while saving taxpayers’ money on council energy bills,” added Mr Owen. 

The scheme will also generate a community fund of over £2 million to support the work of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and be reinvested in other community projects over the 25-year lifetime of the solar farm.

“We will now be able to generate more renewable energy for our money and create a bigger impact for the community,” said Jeff Kenna, Director of WWCE.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues