County Council solar farm starts generating power

A 5MW solar farm owned by West Sussex County Council has started generating power for the National Grid.

The solar farm, which is located on 25 acres of County Council land east of Tangmere Airfield will generate enough energy to power 1,500 homes.

The panels are expected to earn the local authority £13.8 million over 20 years through the Government's Feed-In-Tariff scheme.

The project has cost £5.2 million and will pay for itself in less than 10 years.

West Sussex County Council is setting up a power purchase agreement to use some of the electricity to power its corporate buildings, which will reduce the council's energy bills.

The project has been developed by Your Energy Sussex, the West Sussex-led council partnership working with Carillion to reduce carbon emissions, save money and boost the local economy.

"I am delighted to see Tangmere solar farm up and running,” said West Sussex County Council leader, Cllr Louise Goldsmith.

“This is a great example of local authorities taking a lead on innovative, sustainable developments that make economic sense and benefit our residents.

"I'm also delighted to see that 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."

Michael Brown, County Council 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."

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