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First subsidy-free solar farm opens after ‘greenest summer’

Clayhill solar farm, in Bedfordshire, will generate enough electricity for around 2,500 homes and save 4,452 tonnes of carbon.

The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm is being officially opened as the country marks the “greenest” summer on record.

The 10 megawatt (10MW) Clayhill solar farm, near Flitwick in Bedfordshire, will generate enough electricity for around 2,500 homes and save 4,452 tonnes of carbon, its backers said.

In addition to the rows of panels there are five battery storage units, to maximise use of power from the solar farm by allowing electricity to be stored and fed into the grid when it is needed.

The official opening comes as National Grid revealed that more than half (52%) of Britain’s electricity came from low carbon sources in the last three months, with 24% coming from renewables, in what it called the “greenest summer” on record.

Steve Shine, executive chairman of Clayhill’s developer Anesco, said: “For the solar industry, Clayhill is a landmark development and paves the way for a sustainable future, where subsidies are no longer needed or relied upon.

“Importantly, it proves that the Government’s decision to withdraw subsidies doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology.”

(PA graphic)

He put the ability to make the scheme subsidy-free down to working closely with supply chain partners on design, technical specifications, the latest technology and costs, as well as placing the 6MW of battery storage alongside the farm.

Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry said: “The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the UK.

“Solar panels already provide enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes with 99% of that capacity installed since 2010.”

She said the Government’s clean growth strategy – which has been delayed since last year – would ensure the UK continued to lead the world on the transition to a low carbon economy.

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