Scheme looks to boost farm rooftop solar

Solar developer Lightsource has launched a £125m scheme to increase the uptake of rooftop solar and is looking for farmers or landowners with suitable buildings.

The company is offering to design, build and install solar panels at no upfront cost to the business, which will enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Lightsource for the supply of daytime electricity to the premises at a reduced rate (from 5p/kWh) for a standard 25-year term.

The scheme is available to any business with a roof space of 400sq m upwards.

See also: Solar power support switches from fields to roofs

No rental is paid for the roof space and Lightsource receives all Feed-in Tariffs income and revenue from surplus electricity sales.

But the company suggests an average rooftop array could provide savings totalling £35,000 per 100sq m of roof space over 25 years, assuming an annual electricity consumption of 500,000kWh, a 5p/kWh electricity cost saving over a typical commercial tariff and 100% of solar generation used on site.

Businesses do not have to commit to buying a significant percentage of the electricity generated and only pay for what is used, says Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle.

The fixed solar PPA price is linked to RPI. Scottish fruit and vegetable supplier Ivan Wood used the scheme to fit 175 solar panels on two 350sq m roofs at Navitie Farm, near Ballingry, generating a total of around 40kWp. 

The buildings are used for processing and preparing fruit and vegetables and must be constantly refrigerated, so the solar panels make a significant contribution to reducing operating costs. Since installation, Mr Wood estimates he has almost halved his annual electricity bill, saving £6,000 a year.

“Because we need to keep the building refrigerated 24 hours a day and have a lot of energy-intensive machinery, we use almost all of the solar power we generate so we saw a real saving right away.”