Exeter’s solar farm now powering recycling facility and electric fleet
Published: 17 February 2023
Exeter’s solar farm and battery storage facility has gone live and is now powering the city’s electric fleet of vehicles, recycling centre and offices with green energy.
The project is the first of its kind in the region and delivers a further step towards the City Council’s ambition of becoming Net Zero Carbon by 2030.
The £3.5m Water Lane Solar Park at Marsh Barton features 3,700 solar panels which creates 1.2MW of clean, renewable energy. The substantial battery facility is capable of storing 2MW and provides flexibility between peak generation and peak usage.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the facility is built on an inactive landfill site and is now feeding power directly to the Council’s nearby Materials Reclamation Facility.
There are 28 chargers ranging from 40kW to 11kW in capacity are located at the Exton Road depot which are charging the Council’s fleet of electric vehicles, including three electric refuse vehicles.
The cost savings over all sites included in the project are estimated to be £256,000 per annum.
The carbon saving is estimated to be 580 tonnes per annum, overall a 72% reduction across all sites included in the project.
As well as cutting carbon emissions the project also has the benefit of increasing energy security and providing protection against price increases, with savings helping to support Council services.
Cllr Duncan Wood, Lead Councillor for Climate Change, said the ability to generate green energy at a time of rapidly rising fuel costs was hugely important for the city.
He said: “It’s fantastic that we are now generating green energy and using new storage technology to power our fleet as well as the recycling processes at the Material Reclamation Facility and our nearby offices.
“Having our own supply means we can now guarantee that our electric vehicles going around Exeter are running on green electricity. We have also got a lot of electric vans and cars that the Council runs, and we want to ensure that they are charged on green energy.”
He added: “Switching to an electric fleet of vehicles and generating the electricity to power them, is a big step towards the Council being Net Carbon Zero by 2030. This project is leading to a significant reduction in our carbon emissions.”
The recent replacement of three of our diesel refuse vehicles with fully electric ones is saving 10,500 litres of diesel per year for each vehicle - a total of 35,000 litres per annum (103 tonnes of CO2 annually). That’s more than a quarter of a million litres of diesel over their eight year lifespan.
The aim is to replace all of the City Council’s diesel waste and recycling fleet with electric powered vehicles within the next six years and provide a carbon neutral operation.
Battery storage is also added to existing Council solar PV sites at The Matford Centre and John Lewis Car Park, and a 120kW solar PV array and battery store at the Riverside Leisure Centre as part of this project.