Solar-powered business park now connected to National Grid

The UK’s first solar-powered business park has been connected to the National Grid.

The 3,000 ground-mounted solar panels now powering Howbery Business Park in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, are expected to generate 682MWh of carbon-free electricity a year — one quarter of the park’s needs.

Howbery accommodates nearly 1,000 employees working in more than 20 organisations, and the solar array is expected to save more than 350 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

The solar installation, which can produce 748kW of power under ideal conditions, is one of the first large-scale ground-mounted systems to be connected to the grid under the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme.

British company Solarcentury built the array for Howbery-based water research group HR Wallingford and Lightsource Renewable Energy, funded by private investment.

Derry Newman, Solarcentury chief executive officer, said: ‘The solar at Howbery Business Park provides a glimpse of how this technology can contribute to our clean energy future, hinting at the serious role solar power can play in our energy mix.

‘Solar is not to be underestimated; it is the fastest-growing energy technology in the world, simply because it is clean, reliable and a readily available alternative to fossil fuels.’

FITs allow low-carbon generators to receive a subsidised rate for their electricity in order to encourage investment in the technology and bring down its costs.

However, the government is reviewing the scheme for large-scale installations and earlier this month announced cuts in the tariff of between 40 and 70 per cent for schemes with more than 50kW of generating capacity.