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Councillors give green light to solar farm proposals

image of solar farm and sunlight

Plans to more than double the amount of solar energy generated by Gateshead Council - including building two urban solar farms - have been approved by councillors.   

Members of the council's Cabinet agreed to proposals for a programme of solar photo-voltaic (PV) installations both to new and existing buildings and sites  linked to the Gateshead District Energy Network to reduce its reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels and help to combat climate change.  

The proposals will also lead to the creation of two urban solar farms capable of generating 3MW of clean energy - one on a unused 2.5 hectare site on the Baltic Quarter, and a second on vacant land next to Gateshead Stadium.   

The solar farms would be among the first to be built to a modular design, making it easier and cheaper to relocate. This means that if the land is required for development, the PV arrays could be dismantled and re-located to one of a number of other brownfield development sites in Gateshead town centre.   

Read more about Gateshead's District Energy SchemeEarlier this year, the Council submitted an outline grant application to the government's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which includes £3m grant to fund the urban solar farms, which has now been approved in principle.     

The proposals also include: 

  • installing solar PV canopies above car parking bays in sites like Gateshead Civic Centre

  • incentivising the developer of the nearby Freight Depot housing site to install PV's on the new homes it builds, potentially generating around 600kW of energy across the site

  • including rooftop solar PV on new developments such as the Gateshead Quays Arena and the proposed Gateshead Quays multi storey car park, both of which are due to start construction next year

Councillor John McElroy, Cabinet member for Transport and the Environment, says: "These are bold plans, and exactly the sort of measures we need to help tackle climate change.  

"Rural solar farms are becoming more common in the UK, but urban solar farms are not. Using land set aside for future development to generate something as useful as solar energy is a great way to use an under-utilised asset, reduce our carbon footprint and bring it much closer to where the power is used.  

"These and a host of other measures we currently have in development will further reduce our reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels and will make a positive contribution to our fight against climate change."

Read more about Climate Change in GatesheadIn his report to Cabinet members, Peter Udall, Strategic Director, Economy, Innovation and Growth, said that the expected cost of the whole programme would be £4.3m, though a significant portion would be met by government grants, and the remainder would be fully recovered through incomes and savings over the 25 years life span of PV systems.   

Gateshead's previous PV installations were carried out under a government-backed subsidy called the Feed In Tariff which allowed energy to be fed into the National Grid to generate a small income for the Council. However, the government later reduced the tariff significantly and then closed it, making further PV installations financially unviable.   

However, with energy prices increasing, solar PV systems are now becoming viable without government subsidy, particularly when they are installed within a private wire network such as the Gateshead Council-owned Gateshead Energy Company.     

In addition, linking these new developments to the existing Gateshead Energy Company network means that solar energy generated by buildings which are closed - such as schools during weekends and school holidays - can then be used to power other buildings such as offices and leisure centres.   

Gateshead Council declared a Climate Emergency in  May 2019 and  has committed to making Council operations zero-carbon by 2030. The Council has already reduced its carbon emissions by 55% in the past decade.   

Currently, 25% of council buildings use power generated by the council itself at the Gateshead Energy Centre in Quarryfield Road. A further 10% comes from the 2MW of solar PV systems installed in 2015-16 across 35 council-owned buildings. This new programme will more than double the amount of electricity from renewable sources in Council buildings.

The government's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is administered by Salix Finance. 

See also:

Major grant will connect Gateshead homes to mine water energy scheme 

Winlaton to host pioneering hydrogen energy pilot 

image of solar farm and sunlight
11 November 2020

Plans to more than double the amount of solar energy generated by Gateshead Council - including building two urban solar farms - have been approved by councillors.   

Members of the council's Cabinet agreed to proposals for a programme of solar photo-voltaic (PV) installations both to new and existing buildings and sites  linked to the Gateshead District Energy Network to reduce its reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels and help to combat climate change.  

The proposals will also lead to the creation of two urban solar farms capable of generating 3MW of clean energy - one on a unused 2.5 hectare site on the Baltic Quarter, and a second on vacant land next to Gateshead Stadium.   

The solar farms would be among the first to be built to a modular design, making it easier and cheaper to relocate. This means that if the land is required for development, the PV arrays could be dismantled and re-located to one of a number of other brownfield development sites in Gateshead town centre.   

Read more about Gateshead's District Energy SchemeEarlier this year, the Council submitted an outline grant application to the government's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which includes £3m grant to fund the urban solar farms, which has now been approved in principle.     

The proposals also include: 

  • installing solar PV canopies above car parking bays in sites like Gateshead Civic Centre

  • incentivising the developer of the nearby Freight Depot housing site to install PV's on the new homes it builds, potentially generating around 600kW of energy across the site

  • including rooftop solar PV on new developments such as the Gateshead Quays Arena and the proposed Gateshead Quays multi storey car park, both of which are due to start construction next year

Councillor John McElroy, Cabinet member for Transport and the Environment, says: "These are bold plans, and exactly the sort of measures we need to help tackle climate change.  

"Rural solar farms are becoming more common in the UK, but urban solar farms are not. Using land set aside for future development to generate something as useful as solar energy is a great way to use an under-utilised asset, reduce our carbon footprint and bring it much closer to where the power is used.  

"These and a host of other measures we currently have in development will further reduce our reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels and will make a positive contribution to our fight against climate change."

Read more about Climate Change in GatesheadIn his report to Cabinet members, Peter Udall, Strategic Director, Economy, Innovation and Growth, said that the expected cost of the whole programme would be £4.3m, though a significant portion would be met by government grants, and the remainder would be fully recovered through incomes and savings over the 25 years life span of PV systems.   

Gateshead's previous PV installations were carried out under a government-backed subsidy called the Feed In Tariff which allowed energy to be fed into the National Grid to generate a small income for the Council. However, the government later reduced the tariff significantly and then closed it, making further PV installations financially unviable.   

However, with energy prices increasing, solar PV systems are now becoming viable without government subsidy, particularly when they are installed within a private wire network such as the Gateshead Council-owned Gateshead Energy Company.     

In addition, linking these new developments to the existing Gateshead Energy Company network means that solar energy generated by buildings which are closed - such as schools during weekends and school holidays - can then be used to power other buildings such as offices and leisure centres.   

Gateshead Council declared a Climate Emergency in  May 2019 and  has committed to making Council operations zero-carbon by 2030. The Council has already reduced its carbon emissions by 55% in the past decade.   

Currently, 25% of council buildings use power generated by the council itself at the Gateshead Energy Centre in Quarryfield Road. A further 10% comes from the 2MW of solar PV systems installed in 2015-16 across 35 council-owned buildings. This new programme will more than double the amount of electricity from renewable sources in Council buildings.

The government's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is administered by Salix Finance. 

See also:

Major grant will connect Gateshead homes to mine water energy scheme 

Winlaton to host pioneering hydrogen energy pilot 

More Gateshead news

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