Rochdale Borough Council may develop the first publically owned solar farm in Greater Manchester to help cement its desire to become the ‘greenest’ authority in Britain.
Councillors have agreed for officers to look into the business case for a 250kW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm and if found to be viable a report will be brought forward for approval.
If the business case proved viable and planning approval given the solar farm may be constructed on around one acre of contaminated land behind Rochdale Leisure Centre, on Entwistle Road. The solar farm could operate for 20 to 25 years and then either be decommissioned or the panels replaced.
Councillor Peter Williams, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Customer Services, said: “We leading the way as a ‘green’ authority and this solar farm could not only bring in revenue for the authority but help us become more energy self-sufficient in the future in a time where fuel bills are on the rise.
“Options for this site are limited, due to its former use as a waste disposal site and contamination present, so a solar farm would allow the council to turn this land from a liability to a productive asset.”
Each year the council uses 27.5GWh of electricity to power buildings and offices. The 2012-2013 cost was £2.8m, excluding street lighting and leisure sites. Its annual Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) tax bill in 2012 was £339,000.
As part of the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy, Rochdale Borough Council has agreed to a 48 per cent CO2 emission cut by 2020. Rochdale Green Action Plan is the council’s overarching sustainability strategy.
By harvesting its own source of renewable energy, including wind and solar energy, Rochdale Borough Council could generate new multi-million-pound revenue streams, fund municipal services, put land assets to work, underwrite energy security and offset soaring energy prices, as well as fulfil its renewable power and carbon reduction obligations.
Colin Lambert, leader of Rochdale Borough Council and one of the key driving forces behind the vision to make it one of the greenest boroughs in the country, said: “We face some serious challenges including global warming, climate change, energy and resource depletion. These require us to develop some imaginative solutions in tough economic times.”
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