Wrexham Council's story
The project came about when a WCBC-owned farmhouse and land were going to be sold off. The Carbon Project Board asked if the land could be retained for a solar farm.
The original plans for a 5 megawatt farm had to be scaled back because of issues with the land, but it remained economically viable. The team made an investment case to the Council.
Planning permission was difficult because some people objected to how it was going to look. There were also going to be construction impacts, but the team built in a mechanism to give some financial benefits back to the local community.
Getting a connection back into the grid, locally operated by Scottish Power, was difficult too. Although a substation was relatively close, which meant the charge for connection was not too high, they needed access to privately-owned land.
Work had to begin in January, when weather was at its worst which made construction more difficult, but there was time pressure as there were plans to drop the level of the ‘feed in’ tariff. Since the drop, these types of projects are no longer seen as economically viable. Rather than connecting to the grid – which is expensive to set up – a project like this would need to find a local customer and supply them directly over a long contract time.
Plans to extend the farm, submitted to WCBC by Innova, have recently been approved, and the extension is due to create a further 5.7MW of energy generation alongside 10MW of battery storage, saving nearly 1.5 kilotonnes of emissions.
Useful learnings from Wrexham Council
It can be tricky to get planning permission for a large scale project like this. WCBC was able to see the investment opportunity, but the local community also needed to be reassured. A mechanism for funds to be put back into the local area was built in, which created more support for the project.
Wrexham Council's metrics
CO2 emissions saved.