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Innovative waste plant's solar panels come online

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Barnfield solar farmBarnfield solar farmA state-of-the-art waste plant in Swindon is now being powered solely by the energy of the sun – saving tax payers £185,000 per year.

Barnfield Solar Farm has been brought online by Public Power Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council.

The energy it produces is directly powering the Swindon Household Waste Recycling Centre’s Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) plant and depot.

The recycling centre houses the UK’s first Solid Recovered Fuel plant for municipal waste which processes 70,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from Swindon households and local companies, converting it to renewable fuel and diverting 97 percent of Swindon’s domestic rubbish from landfill. The facility was completed in 2014.

PPS developed the 2.5 MW project on the council-owned former landfill site adjacent to the recycling centre at Cheney Manor. It is connected by a ‘private-wire’ to the SRF plant.

SBC has invested directly in the solar project and agreed a long-term power purchase arrangement with PPS, which means the project can operate profitably without a large subsidy. Overall the solar farm is expected to enable SBC to avoid £185,000 a year in energy costs.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for Highways and the Environment, said: “This is the latest example of how, using PPS, we have been able to use renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint, which is a top priority for us.

“We have been particularly successful in recent years in delivering solar schemes across the Borough and this latest project is no exception, with the energy being used to power our SRF plant, which does such an excellent job in preventing our waste from going to landfill.

“It will also save a significant amount of money at a time when we have to deliver large savings from our budget, so I am delighted we have been able to flick the switch this week to get the benefit of this green energy source.”

Steve Cains, head of power solutions, PPS, said: “Barnfield ticks a lot of boxes for us – it’s a very good use of a former landfill site, it’s helping Swindon Borough Council achieve its renewable energy goals and manage energy costs, and will be using a source of renewable energy generated on-site to power the renewable fuel plant.

“This is another example of how PPS is leading the way with innovative energy solutions for local authorities. With the removal of government incentives for solar, we expect to work on many more private-wire developments like this which deliver substantial cost savings to the end users.”

The site houses 9,240 panels which will generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 1,500 homes.