Anesco powers up Buckinghamshire solar farm
The future looks bright for homeowners in Buckinghamshire, as a 12MW solar project in the county has powered up for the first time. The Anesco Bumpers Solar Farm is forecast to generate enough renewable energy to power 2,800 homes and save up to 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
The much-delayed project sits on agricultural fields near the county boundary with Oxfordshire and is adjacent to the Ilmer Grid substation. As a battery-ready site, this gives Bumpers the potential to capture and store energy during periods of low electricity demand.
The project is the sixth solar farm designed and developed by renewables experts Anesco and one of the first subsidy-free solar plants in the UK, with the alternative asset manager Gresham House acquiring the installation in January of this year.
As the new Buckinghamshire solar plant opened, Anesco’s CEO, Mark Futyan, commented: “Solar and battery storage have a vital role in the decarbonisation of the energy system and the UK’s transition to net-zero.”
Anesco will continue to provide operation and maintenance services at Bumpers for the next 25 years and has moved to address any local environmental concerns by including habitat management measures for at-risk bird and bat species in its plans.
Buckinghamshire is one of the best-placed areas in the UK for renewable energy generation, with sufficiently high wind speeds and a high to mid-range solar energy yield. This has led to a number of planned green energy schemes over the years.
However, these projects have not always had the easiest ride, with renewable developers facing an uphill struggle to change attitudes in the county.
A previously proposed 45-acre Buckinghamshire solar farm project by Hive Energy at Forty Green Farm in nearby Bledlow was turned down on appeal, due to local opposition.
Although the planned project was expected to generate 7 MW of green energy to power more than 2,100 homes, residents raised concerns about the impact the project would have on local views across the Chilterns.
Another Anesco development in Little Marlow was thrown out at the planning stage by authorities in 2015 for similar reasons.
The Bumpers Farm project was itself previously rejected due to a presumed “unacceptable adverse impact on the local landscape character”. This decision was overturned on appeal in October 2015, however.
Among reservations about solar farms is their assumed effect on local ecosystems, though renewable energy developers have moved to address these concerns in recent times by teaming up with animal welfare groups to encourage more wildlife, such as birds, bats and bees to inhabit solar plants.
Attitudes do appear to be changing however, with a number of clean energy projects getting the green light recently. Bumpers Farm could be joined by a proposed 25 MW solar plant developed by Elgin Energy in nearby Winslow to help keep the light shining in Buckinghamshire.
Other renewable initiatives in the county include plans to harness kinetic energy to power lighting on Bucks roads and a solar photovoltaic plant in Westcott Venture Park.