Work progresses to create Exeter’s first solar farm and storage project


WORK is well underway to create Exeter City Council’s own solar farm and battery storage project.

The scheme is one way in which the authority is continuing to deliver its ambition to be a Net Zero Carbon City by 2030, as well as demonstrating the benefits of solar power.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak the project, located on an inert landfill site at Water Lane, is well under way with preparatory work completed to enable site surveys, design and construction work to begin.

The £3.5million scheme will receive almost £1.6m in grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund designed to drive forward innovation, energy storage solutions and smart grid systems in the region.

Some of the preparatory work was successfully carried out by the Council’s own Park and Open spaces team who competed the initial land scrub under the supervision of ecologists from the Devon Wildlife Consultancy.

The work completed on time and ensured the scheme had a head start before the bird nesting season.

The project includes the development of a 1.2 MW ground mounted solar array co-located with energy storage technology, a 1MW/2MWh Battery with a separate connection (private wire) to provide a renewable energy supply to the Council’s nearby Operations Depot in Exton Road.

The renewable supply is able to support the future electrification of the Council’s operational fleet.

The site itself will include 3,702 Solar PV modules, two battery storage containers and an electricity switch room.

Locally renewable energy growth has declined due to removal of incentives and regional grid reinforcement costs.

The project will address this by acting as a demonstrator for storage and smart grid control systems, facilitating confidence to invest, grow demand and help to reduce costs.

The completed project will have a number of benefits:

  • Increasing electricity generation from carbon free sources.
  • Reducing the peak burden on the National Grid, both contributing to required local reinforcement in the short term.
  • Mitigating the requirement for additional capacity market generation which relies heavily on carbon intensive sources.
  • Providing a flexible source of electricity generation and enable ECC to electrify its operational fleet, replacing diesel fuel used in operational vehicles with solar power.

Exeter City Council’s energy team has a proven track record of climate mitigation work, having installed over 2MW of solar PV on its estate, numerous energy-saving projects and a network of public EV Charging facilities in 2014.

Replication of the project provides an opportunity to create long-term growth in the smart energy storage market and to address unsustainable trends in local energy infrastructure demand.

Cllr Rachel Sutton, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Culture, commented: “This is a really great initiative which shows that the City Council is leading by example, and investing in projects, as we move towards a carbon neutral future.

“To be able to power our fleet of electric vehicles with energy we have created from solar power is a fantastic example of the innovation that will be needed across the city if Exeter is to fulfil its ambition of becoming a Net Zero Carbon City by 2030.”