Successful solar farm powering ahead
The solar park, on the outskirts of the town near the Liverton Business Park, was built by Clinton Devon Estates and started generating low-carbon electricity from the sun at the end of 2014.
Less than three years later, figures show it is generating around six megawatts of electricity annually. With the average UK household using 3,900 kWh of electricity a year, Liverton is generating the equivalent of the amount of electricity consumed by more than 1,200 households annually – around six per cent of the 20,600 households in and around Exmouth.
In addition to the power being generated, it is also making a big contribution to reducing the town’s carbon footprint, as the more solar energy is generated, the less coal, gas and oil are needed to produce electricity.
John Wilding, Head of Forestry and Environmental Economy for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “When we drew up our plans for the solar park, back in 2013, we were confident that it would generate about six megawatts a year.
“We have accurate gauges to show how much electricity is being generated at any given time and since it came on stream late in 2014 it has produced almost 18 megawatts in total, which is bang on target.
“The power we generate is fed into the local distribution network so we know that it is being used locally, by homes and businesses in Exmouth, and especially, of course, the many businesses at Clinton Devon Estates’ Liverton Business Park.”
Renewable energy is playing a larger role than ever in the UK’s power mix. On a sunny, windy day in June this year, 70 per cent of the electricity used in the UK was from low-carbon sources, and coal is used to produce as little as five per cent of the electricity we consume today.
Mr Wilding added: “Clinton Devon Estates have been caring for the countryside for generations.
“As an organisation, we aim to look after the land in our care, as well as investing for our future and the future of the people who live and work on the Estate. National government policy also says all communities should contribute to energy generation from renewable resources.
“Today, these solar panels are helping us play our part in producing reliable, clean energy for homes and businesses while at the same time reducing harmful CO2 emissions.”
Clinton Devon Estates was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of sustainable development in 2005, 2010 and again in 2015.
Solar energy facts:
- Liverton Solar Park is made up of around 16,000 individual solar panels.
- There is enough solar capacity in Britain to meet the electricity needs of every house in the Westcountry.
- In 2010, solar power generated just 0.01 per cent of the electricity used in Britain. Today it is, at times, closer to 10 per cent.
- During the eclipse in the USA in August, many people feared disruption to the power grid as solar generation would fall dramatically. But it didn’t matter – demand for electricity fell too because so many people were outside.
- The South pacific island of Ta’u is now self-sufficient in electricity thanks to solar energy. It previously imported 100,000 gallons of diesel a year.