Through its Energy Strategy, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is committed to investing in secure, affordable and environmentally-friendly energy.
It opened its first solar farm in 2015 on the site of the former Tangmere Airfield near Chichester. This 4.8MW site was one of the first of its kind to be owned and operated by a local authority and generates enough zero-carbon power for 1,500 homes.
Westhampnett solar farm opened in 2018. It is the first publicly-owned solar farm to be developed with large-scale battery storage capacity. The 7.4MW site, developed on a former landfill, has 26,000 panels and 4MW of battery storage.
A significant solar photo voltaic (PV) rollout across the county’s schools has seen a further 5MW in generation capacity delivered across approximately 80 schools. The County Council has funded and installed the systems through low-cost borrowing, which means that there is no upfront cost to the schools that purchase the electricity at a reduced rate, enabling them to significantly reduce their bills and carbon emissions.
WSCC also operates a recycling fund for energy efficiency projects in partnership with Salix. To date, this fund has been used for a variety of projects in its corporate buildings including LED lighting upgrades, heat pump installations and a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) project.
The County Council is currently in the feasibility stage of a ‘behind the meter’ battery storage pilot programme. This will test small to medium scale battery storage technology in a variety of applications, from a small primary school to large office buildings. The batteries will be co-located with existing or new solar PV systems where appropriate, or installed as a stand-alone system.
WSCC is also supporting two strategic projects that will influence the way that energy is generated, stored and shared in the future.
Project SMARTHUBS – this Innovate UK-funded project overseen by a public / private consortium involves the development of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). It will deploy energy assets across domestic and commercial properties in and around the Adur & Worthing area. The VPP is designed to be ‘multi-vector’ using heat and transport energy assets as well as power assets to deliver value to the local and national grid, as well as benefits to local residents.
BISEPS - the EU Interreg 2 Seas funded project (www.biseps.eu) is working with business parks in four countries. The aim is to realise the potential synergies created by managing renewable heat and power across a number of commercial buildings, rather than each building or company considering its energy production or demand in isolation. WSCC is testing this approach with the Manor Royal Business District in Crawley and working to deliver a number of technical solutions including solar PV, battery storage, CHP, heat pumps and a district heating system. The BISEPS project will also lead to the development of a computer tool to help businesses carry out their own high-level feasibility work and create business cases to deliver successful energy projects. The 3 year project ends in January 2020