Army’s first solar farm hailed as ‘key milestone in go-green agenda’

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The British Army has opened its first solar farm as part of a project that will help reduce greenhouse emissions and see savings of around £152 million over 10 years.

The farm, at the Defence School of Transport, at Normandy Barracks in Leconfield, East Yorkshire, is made up of more than 4,000 solar panels set in an area the size of around eight football pitches.

It is the first of four pilot sites planned across England as part of the Army’s £200 million Project Prometheus investment.

The project – which will see 80 solar farms across the Army estate within 10 years – is designed to support the UK Government reaching its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Construction is under way at the next three pilot sites – at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks, Gloucestershire; Rock Barracks, Suffolk; and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, Sussex – and it is estimated the four sites will see £1 million in efficiency savings and 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, with saving costs due to be reinvested into essential Army infrastructure.

At the four-hectare Leconfield site, where each individual solar panel will generate 550 watts, the farm is projected to save 700 tonnes of carbon emissions and cut electricity bills by one third annually.

The majority of the energy generated will be used on site, including potentially powering accommodation, offices, hangars, classrooms and the gym, with any surplus exported to the grid.

Major General David Southall, director of basing and infrastructure, said: “Our first operational solar farm at Leconfield marks a key milestone in the Army’s go-green agenda. It showcases our firm commitment to tackle the effects of climate change, harnessing renewable energy to power our estate.

“Leconfield is the first of four pilot sites to open this year. Each builds on our knowledge and expertise, enabling us to upscale and deliver a total of 80 solar farms across the Army estate within the decade.

“We continue to think big, start small, scale fast.”

The solar farm was officially opened on Wednesday by MP Jeremy Quin, the minister for defence procurement.

British Army’s first solar farm
Jeremy Quin, the minister for defence procurement, opened the solar farm (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Quin said: “This multimillion-pound investment reaffirms our commitment to net-zero 2050 and developing a more sustainable service.

“Significant investment will result in a more efficient and environmentally friendly estate.”

Greg McKenna, managing director of Centrica Business Solutions, which built the farm, added: “It will require a monumental effort to reach net-zero but, by showing leadership on sustainability and carbon reduction, the Army has put in place a template which the rest of the public sector and industry can replicate.”

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