Bedford Green Technology & Innovation Park (Energy Park) is a project designed to deliver low carbon, clean energy generation technologies on a 30-hectare restored former landfill site.
The landfill site was unsuitable for most types of development, but we were already generating some energy from the gas produced there from rotting waste that was turning a gas turbine. This inspired us to look at other renewable energy and educational opportunities. The proposed development will promote practical renewable energy education through joint working with two universities and local colleges.
The Energy Park will house a large solar farm – a 4.2 MW system of around 1800 panels – and we are looking at the possibility of housing a food waste treatment plant to generate further energy in the future. The solar farm will produce energy that can be sold back into the network while providing onsite buildings and businesses with clean, green power. We will also be exploring trial demonstrator energy projects with our educational partners.
The council received more than £1.8 million in funding for the park from the South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) Getting Building Fund, and the site at Elstow in Bedfordshire is currently under construction. The solar farm is due to be completed in 2022.
Give yourself plenty of time and do your research – This type of project can be incredibly complex, particularly to undertake all of the necessary steps with the Environment Agency and the DNO (in our case, UK Power Network). A suitable connection to the grid is essential for an energy park and it’s taken us a long time to work through the administrative steps to get that in place. Much of the infrastructure around networks is old and the processes are incredibly complex, so this all takes a lot of time.
Number of groups – including schools and universities – able to access the site and learn from it.