Developer hails opening as “landmark development” for solar industry

Climate change minister Claire Perry has officially opened the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm near Flitwick in Bedfordshire.

Renewable developer Anesco hailed the christening of the 10MW Clayhill solar farm, which is co-located with a 6MW battery system, as a “landmark development” for the solar industry.

“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,” said Perry.

She continued: “The government is determined to build on this success and our ambitious clean growth strategy will ensure we continue to lead the world on the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Anesco executive chairman Steve Shine 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.”

The solar farm was installed over a three-month period after Anesco was granted planning permission for the project by Central Bedfordshire Council in 2015.

The solar panels and batteries were supplied by Chinese green tech manufacturer BYD and the project is the first in Europe to feature 1500v inverters, which were provided by Huawei.

“By deciding to co-locate the 6MW battery storage unit and by working closely with our supply chain partners, we have been able to achieve a subsidy-free development,” said Shine.

Large-scale solar projects are currently unable to secure subsidies due to the closure of the Renewables Obligation to such projects in March 2015 and the government’s decision to block so-called “mature” technologies, which also include onshore wind, from competing in the latest Contacts for Difference auction.

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