Council’s trailblazing hybrid solar farm up and running

GRIDSERVE has completed the handover of its third advanced hybrid solar + battery farm.

The subsidy-free project, for Warrington Borough Council, spans over 88 acres, equivalent to more than 50 football pitches.

The 23 MWp Cirencester Hybrid Solar Farm is the first DC-coupled solar farm of this size in the UK and the most advanced to be completed in the country since GRIDSERVE’s York project in December 2019. It uses battery storage and technologies to maximise revenue and help balance the grid – during the day with direct solar generation and at night with energy stored in the 51 MWh battery.

Located in Witpit Lane, Cirencester, the 23 MWp solar farm includes more than 43,000 bifacial solar panels on trackers, co-located with 51 MWh of DC-coupled energy storage. It is considered to be one of the world’s most technically advanced solar farms, achieving a significant feat of design to avoid multiple conversion processes, increase efficiency, and help balance the grid. The site will produce enough energy to drive EVs over 88 million miles1 every year, equivalent to driving more than 100,000 electric cars from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

Electricity from Cirencester Hybrid Solar Farm will help provide net zero energy for Warrington’s fleet of all-electric buses, coming into operation next year, while the York hybrid solar farm provides energy which can be sold into the grid. A third site in Hull is supplying the council’s net zero energy needs, making Warrington Council the first local authority in the UK to produce all of its own electricity.

Toddington Harper, GRIDSERVE CEO, said: “It is our collective responsibility to tackle the climate change emergency. Projects like Cirencester Hybrid Solar Farm require no government subsidy and deliver secure, affordable and plentiful energy. They demonstrate that the UK can meet its net zero obligations, and in partnership with Warrington Borough Council, enable us to deliver radical carbon reductions to move the needle on climate change in the fastest possible timeframes, and at the lowest cost.”

Warrington Borough Council spokesperson, Cllr Janet Henshaw, added: “Investing in subsidy-free developments has been a landmark achievement for the Council. Each project has proven to be a solid strategic decision to ensure the borough’s future energy security. We look forward to working with GRIDSERVE to ensure Cirencester Hybrid Solar Farm continues to generate optimal financial and environmental returns.”

GRIDSERVE has deployed a number of sophisticated technologies for Warrington., including bifacial solar panels, which generate electricity on both sides, and trackers which enable panels to follow the sun, maximise generation and stabilise output over the whole day. These enhancements increase solar generation by around 20% compared to comparable solar farms without these technologies.

Cirencester Hybrid Solar Farm joins two other hybrid solar + battery farms. The first, in York, includes a 35 MWp solar array and 30 MWh of battery storage. The other, in Hull, includes a 26 MWp solar array and 23 MWh of battery storage. GRIDSERVE will operate and maintain all three projects over their lifetimes to maximise system performance and value for the council.

A typical 1MWp UK solar farm will generate 1 million kWh’s of energy (=1GWh) every year, across 4 acres of land (2 football pitches). Therefore 1 acre of land can generate 250kWh of energy. A modern electric vehicle can drive 4 miles per kWh of energy, therefore 1 acre of land = 250kWh x 4 miles per kWh = 1 million miles. A football pitch is approximately 2 acres therefore from this area of land approximately 2 million miles of EV charging miles can be generated every year.

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