Giving a new lease of life to farmland with solar energy
“ENGIE is committed to developing energy solutions that are mutually beneficial to our goals and those of our partners. Capel Grange Farm is a great example of how renewable energy can provide benefits to both landowners and the local community, breathing life back into land that is no longer fulfilling its original purpose.” – Rob Tate, Renewables Development Director, ENGIE UK & Ireland
“All areas of farming are going through hard times and apple growing is no different. The solar park provides us with stability and income so we’re no longer at the beck and call of weather conditions, which can wipe out a fruit crop overnight. The solar park means we can concentrate on the better areas of the farm, to grow the quality of fruit required for today’s market.” Peter Darbyshire, Landowner, Capel Grange Farm
Capel Grange Farm
The project brief:
ENGIE partnered with a local landowner to develop a ground mounted solar park, spread over 12 hectares of a former orchard on farmland near Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The aim of the project was to create a viable renewable energy source that could integrate seamlessly into the landscape, with the future capacity to store and export the energy generated via a 5MW battery on site.
Construction on the £5 million project commenced in November 2015, with an experienced team of project managers, land agents, planners and technical specialists working together to identify, lease and design the scheme. Once planning permission was secured, ENGIE worked with the landowner to ensure timely installation and commissioning, with construction completed within four months and the site fully operational by March 2016.
A harmonious outcome:
A truly harmonious solution was achieved for both ENGIE and the local landowner, with ENGIE able to create a renewable energy solution on land that was no longer viable for farming while allowing the landowner to diversify his operations and supplement his income. As well as generating enough electricity to meet the annual equivalent requirements for 1,400 homes, and has already achieved 50,000 t of CO2 savings. The power generated also contributes to a fund which supports the local community.
With the UK in the midst of a transition to a decentralised energy supply, in the future the project will aim to link this energy generation to the local consumer. A 5MW battery has been approved on site which will be able to provides grid support services, as well as a link to the solar farm it would also allow energy to be stored and exported where required in the future.