UK’s largest community-owned solar park to come online next year
19th May 2021 | Commercial Energy
The Ray Valley Solar project in Oxford is expected to come online next autumn, after Triodos Bank confirmed lending for what is expected to be the UK’s largest community-owned solar park. Ray Valley Solar will be located near Arncott in the northeast of Oxford. The project will have a total installed capacity of 19.2MWp once complete and will aim to generate enough electricity to power over 6,000 homes annually.
Triodos bank has confirmed funding for the project, which has received additional financial support from Oxford City Council and grant funding from Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire). The park is owned by social enterprise firm Low Carbon Hub, which believes that surplus energy produced from Ray Valley Solar will create more than £10m of community benefit funding over the project’s lifetime. The money will be spent on local initiatives that reduce energy demand across Oxfordshire.
Low Carbon Hub’s chief executive Dr Barbara Hammond said: “Ray Valley Solar Park is our first ground mount solar project, but it will be our 48th renewable energy project. We’re really pleased to be working with Triodos Bank to help make this project happen, an organisation with a strong track record and such closely aligned values to us. “Along with their finance, we’ve also raised £4.5m in investment into our community share offer, the Community Energy Fund. We were bowled over by the level of support for this share offer, which really demonstrates people’s enthusiasm for the project and support for a better energy system, one based on renewables that benefits communities.”
Triodos Bank has approved the loan facility to allow construction to start this year. The park is expected to begin generating clean energy in autumn 2021. The project will help with the region’s broader decarbonisation efforts. In 2019, Oxford made a public declaration on the climate emergency, which culminated in the creation of a net-zero emissions target for 2030 and the implementation of the UK’s first Citizens’ Climate Assembly.
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