22 September 2023
Sun still shining on Barkham Solar Farm
Work on our first solar farm is set to start powering up again following verbal confirmation that the scheme will be able to connect to the power network earlier than previously advised
Work on Wokingham Borough Council’s first solar farm is set to start powering up again following verbal confirmation from Scottish & Southern Electrical Networks (SSEN) and the National Grid that the scheme will be able to connect to the power network earlier than previously advised.
This news comes after months of very positive discussions between the council, SSEN and National Grid following their notification in March that the scheme would be unable to connect until 2037 at the earliest.
The council has also continued to lobby government, OFGEM and other stakeholders calling for reforms to how electricity connections are managed nationally and to enable the generation of more green renewable energy across the UK.
Working with partners to move ahead
Cllr Sarah Kerr, executive member for climate emergency and resident services, said: “This is great news as, not only will the new solar farm help us tackle the climate emergency by generating green renewable energy, but they will also help generate important income from selling power back to the grid. Money which we can use to help support residents and fund services for those most in need.
“We’ve spent a lot of time talking with SSEN and National Grid to explain the importance of this project to the council and local community. Our thanks go to both SSEN and National Grid for the constructive way in which they have engaged with the council over the months, and we look forward to developing those positive working relationships further as the project progresses.
“Currently it’s only a verbal confirmation but from our conversations we’re confident a formal offer will be received soon. Once we have a revised connection date we will be able to work with our contractors, Bouygues Energies and Services, to finalise a delivery programme for installing the solar farm which we will share once confirmed. Over the past months Bouygues have been fantastic, working closely with us to monitor the situation and using their experience to provide advice to help move the project ahead.”
Reflecting this revised offer, over the coming months the council and Bouygues E&S will recommence work on pre-construction survey and design work for the site.
An update on the project and tri-partite discussions with SSEN and National Grid is also being provided for discussion at the council’s Climate Emergency Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday (25 September).
About the solar farm
On completion the solar farm could generate up to 29 mega watts of renewable energy, enough to power 8,500 homes.
Alongside the solar panels the site will also see the planting of thousands of new trees as part of the council’s tree project, and a new greenway route aimed at better connecting Arborfield, Barkham and Finchampstead to the existing network of rights of way to the north.