SOLAR ENERGY
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30,000 panels and 45 acres: The first subsidy-free solar farm opens in the UK

Site will produce enough power for 2,500 homes and save nearly 4,500 tonnes of carbon

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 5:30pm

By Anmar Frangoul

The U.K.’s first subsidy-free solar farm, a 45-acre facility made up of more than 30,000 solar panels, has opened.

The Clayhill solar farm, near Flitwick, Bedfordshire, is also home to five battery storage units and was officially opened by Climate Change Minister Claire Perry.

Anesco, the energy provider that built the 10 megawatt site, said it would produce enough electricity for around 2,500 homes, saving 4,452 tonnes of carbon.

Downing Street said the farm is the first in the U.K. to be constructed and operated without government subsidy, after the price of solar panels had dropped by two-thirds since 2010.

“The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the U.K.,” Perry said Tuesday. “Solar panels already provide enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes, with 99 per cent of that capacity installed since 2010.”

Also Tuesday, the National Grid said that this summer was the “greenest ever,” with nearly 52 per cent of electricity generation met by low carbon sources. This compares to roughly 35 per cent four years ago.

Earlier this month, renewables in the U.K. received another boost when it was revealed that the cost of offshore wind had fallen substantially. The U.K. government said that the cost of new offshore wind projects producing electricity from 2022-23 would, at £57.50 (US$77.44) per megawatt hour, be 50 per cent lower than the first auction in 2015.

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