Northumbrian Water has signed a long-term power purchase agreement with solar developer Lightsource for a 250kW solar array at its Bran Sands waste water treatment plant.
The 943-panel system was financed and installed by Lightsource, and Northumbrian Water will purchase the electricity it generates directly from Lightsource at discounted prices over a 20-year period.
Lightsource revealed that initial generation data has shown that the system is on course to deliver savings of almost £6,500 in its first year and total savings of £386,000 over its 20-year lifetime.
The install is part of a major project undertake by the water utility to make Bran Sands entirely energy self-sufficient. The facility is set to derive more of its electricity from a £3 million hydro turbine which is currently being developed at the nearby Grassholme Reservoir.
The plant’s manager Steve Coverdale said that the rooftop solar installation stood to help increase the roll-out of more solar across Northumbrian Water’s estate.
“At Northumbrian Water, we are constantly looking at ways to make our operations more energy efficient and sustainable, reducing costs at the same time as protecting the environment. The results so far have been positive at Bran Sands and we will continue monitoring what can be achieved to determine the position of solar energy in the company’s ongoing energy mix,” he said.
Coverdale added that the ultimate aim was for the facility to one day be a net exporter of electricity.
The announcement follows a similar deal for Lightsource with Belfast International Airport, which saw the solar developer complete a 4.8MW ground-mounted install.
“The Bran Sands scheme is a prime example of the role reliable renewable technologies can play in helping businesses to take control of their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint, demonstrating that cost-effective and low carbon energy generation is within reach of any organisation. The project will also provide data that will help to inform further projects in the region, allowing them to secure their energy future as well,” Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle said.