Low Carbon Limited has agreed a deal with Oxfordshire-based social enterprise, Low Carbon Hub, for the rights to its 19 MW Arncott Solar Park. Once built, the project, called Ray Valley Solar, will be one of the largest community-owned solar parks in the UK, generating 18 GWh clean electricity per year – enough to power more than 6000 homes.
Low Carbon Limited secured planning permission for the solar park in May 2020 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 4 GW renewable energy pipeline as the first full-service transaction and first subsidy-free project for the 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, 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 4200 tpy of CO2 being emitted, and represents a five-fold increase in the annual clean energy generation for Low Carbon Hub’s portfolio of 47 renewable energy projects.
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 1300 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.