A waste treatment plant in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, has become the first site of its kind to be powered by solar panels, after two renewables developers combined to install a 5 megawatt (MW) array.
Some 20,000 panels have been fitted at AmeyCespa’s mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant by Lightsource Renewable Energy and Solarcentury, two of the leading solar installers in the UK.
The array will produce enough electricity to meet 70% of the site’s demand – the equivalent to providing nonstop power to 1,200 homes.
“Rather than the plant being connected to export into the grid, there has been significant engineering work to provide 3km of cabling from the plant running directly to local waste management company AmeyCespa”, said Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury.
“Unlike most utility scale ground mounted solar plants in the country, this solar plant prioritises the use of electricity by AmeyCespa’s facilities first, with minimal excess energy being fed back into the national grid.
“We expect to see many more commercial projects of this nature in the future as organisations become increasingly aware of fixed, low cost solar power.”
An MBT plant receives standard household waste and sends the relevant bits off to be recycled before composting the rest. This significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lessens the pressure being placed on landfill sites.
“As a company which provides itself not only on innovation, but working closely with the communities in which we are based, AmeyCespa is delighted to be involved in this partnership to make use of a local source of renewable energy”, said Sarah Clover, account director for AmeyCespa East.
“Minimising our impact on the environment is at the heart of everything we do, and using solar energy to power one of our key facilities demonstrates our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.”