Low Carbon is set to develop the UK’s largest community solar park in the Oxfordshire village of Arncott near Bicester, generating enough to power more than 6,000 homes.
Low Carbon Limited has agreed on a deal with Oxfordshire-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub for the rights to its 19MW Arncott Solar Park. Once built, the project, called Ray Valley Solar, will be the largest community-owned solar park in the UK, generating 18GWh clean electricity per year – enough to power more than 6,000 homes.
Low Carbon Limited secured planning permission for the solar park in May and will remain involved in the construction and long-term management of the site on behalf of its new social enterprise partner.
The community energy deal marks a key milestone in Low Carbon Limited’s 4GW renewable energy pipeline as the first full-service transaction and first subsidy-free project for the leading renewable energy investment and asset manager.
Anticipated to comprise 45,000 solar panels, with battery storage also approved, the park will form part of Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (Project LEO), one of the most ambitious smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK. When operational, the park will provide a crucial ‘anchor load’ of clean electricity generation needed to demonstrate the potential of the coordinated use of local generation, storage and demand in decarbonising the energy system.
Oxfordshire councils have declared a climate emergency, and there are growing calls for a transition to a zero-carbon energy system. The Ray Valley Solar project will take Oxfordshire a step closer to achieving this aim, saving approximately 4,200 tonnes of CO2 being emitted annually, and represents a five-fold increase in the annual clean energy generation for Low Carbon Hub’s portfolio of 47 renewable energy projects.
Commenting on the deal, Low Carbon Chief Executive, Roy Bedlow, said: “Delivering renewable energy at scale is a key Low Carbon objective and we are delighted to partner with Low Carbon Hub to make Oxfordshire’s community energy and smart grid ambitions a reality. This is our first subsidy-free solar project and we look forward to our long-term involvement through asset management to maximise the renewable energy output of the site.”
Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO, Low Carbon Hub added: “We are so thrilled to be building our first ever ground mount solar park, which will have a significant impact on the amount of green electricity produced in Oxfordshire. We are committed to putting community energy at the heart of the new zero carbon energy system and are so excited to open up the Community Energy Fund for new investment to enable people to own part of this exciting project. We share a common goal and ethos in tackling climate change with Low Carbon, and we can’t wait for this project to be realised.”
To finance the project, Low Carbon Hub has reopened its Community Energy Fund and is inviting investment from as little as £100 up to £100,000. Investors in the Fund will be joining over 1,300 people who together have invested £7 million in support of community energy in Oxfordshire. Before the Fund even opened, over £250,000 of investment had been pledged.*
* Capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed. Find out more at www.lowcarbonhub.org/invest