Halton’s solar farm, built on former derelict brownfield land in Widnes, has now been running for almost 12 months, producing renewable energy and saving money.
The one megawatt solar farm has more than 3,000 panels and will generate approximately 850,000kwh of electricity a year. It is connected via a private wire to the DCBL Stadium which will use around 45% of the energy generated, with the remainder exported to the grid.
Reduced energy use at the stadium will help bring down the Council’s carbon footprint, saving around 120 tonnes of CO2 per year, and more than 3,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the project. In addition the electricity used at the stadium will help to reduce the venue’s energy bills.
To date the solar farm has generated approximately 650,000kwh per year and is on target to exceed its annual target. Given the pandemic and the closure of the stadium for much of 2020 and early 2021, more energy had been exported than originally planned but this is expected to change in the second year. To date the Stadium has used about 20% of the energy, resulting in reduced running costs of approximately £14,000.
The Council is considering the feasibility of extending the solar farm and connecting it to other council buildings.
The project was part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Council provided the remainder of the cost.
Two rangers have been funded to look after the maintenance of the site’s solar field and work to support the ecological assets that have developed after being left to nature for many years.
Cllr Phil Harris, the Council’s portfolio holder for Climate Change, who visited the site recently, says: “The work to create an emerging eco park on what was a former brownfield site is a wider benefit of the Solar Farm scheme. The project is a clear demonstration of the Council’s ongoing ambitions to reduce our carbon footprint, improve the environment and reduce council energy use.’’