Torbay Council investigates setting up solar farm to raise money and cut carbon

Nightingale Park, near The Willows, Torquay

Nightingale Park, near The Willows, Torquay - Credit: Archant

Torbay Council is considering investment in a solar farm which would generate enough electricity to supply around 900 homes.

The plans involve a former landfill site which would be covered with solar panels capable of generating up to 3 megawatt-hours of power.

Details of the scheme emerged during a meeting of Torbay Council's Cabinet, although the location was not identified.

Councillors heard it would support the council's climate emergency agenda aiming for Torbay to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The installation would generate income for the council from the sale of the electricity.

Some of the money could be diverted to a 'community dividend' for schemes to benefit local people.

The electricity could be used directly by nearby buildings, be sold to a third party or go into the power network.

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According to figures from the Solar Trade Association, a 3-megawatt array would provide enough energy for around 900 homes, save 1,290 tonnes of CO2 a year, and need around 15 acres of land.

Schemes need to go through the planning process to be given permission and the land can be returned to its previous use at the end of the project.

Although the site was not identified at the meeting, one possibility is Nightingale Park, a former landfill site on the edge of Torquay near The Willows housing estate and shopping centre.

Cabinet member Swithin Long said: 'The power could be sold to nearby organisations, both private and public sector. That would not only be good for the planet, but would also provide an income stream to the council.'

He said one of the proposals for the scheme was to explore having a 'community dividend' to support local projects.

Council deputy leader Darren Cowell said: 'One of the most important elements of the proposal is the support for potential community gain.

'It does very much fit in with our determination to support the climate change agenda. By supporting our own generation of power, we will be contributing towards the reduction of carbon in Torbay.'

The investment for the solar farm would come from the council's Growth Fund – up to £100 million of borrowing for schemes to support economic growth and regeneration in Torbay. The cost of borrowing is funded by income from the schemes.