Northumberland County Council to spend £3million creating solar farm at HQ which will meet create 40% of its energy needs

Northumberland County Council is set to spend almost £3million creating a ‘solar farm’ at its HQ, which would provide around 40% of the building’s power.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019, 16:45
Picture from Pixabay of photovoltaic cells

This is one of the capital projects for which funding is set be given final sign-off at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on August 6.

The facility would would be suspended above the car park to the rear of County Hall in Morpeth using specialist mounting canopies, known as carports, which will allow vehicles to continue to park underneath.

The solar farm will generate electricity to be used by the building and support electric vehicle charging, as well as there being a battery, which can store excess power when the generation is greater than the building’s demand and release the power when it is required.

In addition, 60 electric vehicle charge points will be built into the structure, which ‘will encourage staff and visitors within Northumberland to take up electric and hybrid vehicles’, while the wiring for additional future charge points will also be installed.

It would provide approximately 40% of the building’s electricity usage, with another 10% to come from the solar panels mounted on the roof of County Hall, equating to around 240 tonnes of carbon saved each year.

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The council has applied for half of the funding – £1.47million – from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with a decision expected in December. The other half will come from the authority’s renewable energy pot.

The energy savings from the project are anticipated to more than cover the cost of what the council will spend to get it up and running, as well as helping to meet its recently agreed targets for reducing carbon emissions.

A full resurfacing and remarking of the car park is also included in the budget for the project, which is aiming for construction to start next summer and be completed 12 months later.

Other spending to be agreed at next week’s meeting includes £174,250 to increase capacity with a new mobile classroom at Stannington First School and £300,000 to part-fund the new Forum Way/Westmorland Way roundabout in Cramlington to allow a fifth leg to be included, enabling future development of the Manor Walks site.