Enso Energy, through its subsidiary company Cowley Baldon Green Limited, is proposing to develop a solar farm and battery storage facility on land to the south west of Cowley Substation, Nuneham Courtenay, Oxford, OX44 9PA.
Introducing South Oxfordshire
The proposed generating station would have an export capacity of up to 49.9MW for distribution to the National Grid. This is equivalent to providing enough power to meet the annual electrical needs of approximately 13,000 homes. The anticipated CO2 displacement is around 23,000 tonnes per annum, which represents an emission saving equivalent of a reduction in 7,500 cars on the road every year.
The battery storage system will supply electricity to the local electricity network at times of peak energy demand and help make the renewable energy output of the solar farm a secure and reliable part of the UK energy supply.
homes powered per year (equivalent)
tonnes of CO2 displaced per annum
Following the finalisation of the scheme design and a consultation programme with the local community, the planning application for South Oxfordshire has now been submitted and received validation (Ref: P20/S4360/FUL). The full planning application is available to view here.
Our previous engagement with the community in May 2020 enabled the development team to take on-board local feedback and look at ways of improving and enhancing the positive aspects of our scheme. In response to a number of the issues raised during the public consultation process the design of the scheme has been amended as follows:
- The repositioning on Site of the proposed substation and battery storage facility;
- The position of proposed Information Boards on public footpaths advising about solar energy and the biodiversity features of the proposals;
- Retention of the existing informal public footpath in addition to reinstating the definitive public footpath;
- The removal of solar panels on the more higher elevated sections of the fields to assist in reducing landscape, visual and heritage impacts;
- Increasing the distances between the solar panels/security fencing and public footpaths; and
- Strengthening of proposed new native planting in areas around the Site to improve visual screening
We held an online public consultation webinar and Q&A session event on 22nd May 2020. The webinar included a ten-minute presentation by the project team where they outlined the draft proposals. During the Q&A session which followed the webinar attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the draft proposals – the webinar is available to watch by clicking the video below. The EIA Screening document is available for download here.
What are the benefits of the solar farm and battery storage facility?
The main benefits of the development proposed are summarised below:
- It will assist South Oxfordshire District Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with local, national and international targets and its declared Climate Emergency.
- Contribute towards the security of energy supply in South Oxfordshire through the provision of local, competitive renewable energy supply.
- The project will support the UK’s urgent need to transition to a low carbon future, producing significant amounts of renewable energy.
- The proposed development will make use of innovative tracker technology, making the very best use of the solar efficiency of the site, generating 20-25% more energy than traditional fixed solar arrays.
- No protected landscape, heritage or ecological designations will be affected by the solar farm.
- A solar plant allows agricultural land to rest for the period of operation and the land use can easily be reversed to agriculture at the end of the project life.
- Compared to intensive arable farming, a solar farm gives land the opportunity for multiple uses. In addition to energy production, solar farms can support biodiversity by allowing small animals access to otherwise fenced-off land, with bird and insect fodder plants and wildflowers sown around the modules (visit www.solar-trade.org.uk/solar-farms).
- We anticipate that just 4% of the site will be affected by onsite excavations, a low impact for significant energy generation.
- We anticipate that construction will be complete in approximately 7 months. This will typically require 8 HGV deliveries to the site each day, which will not be routed through local villages.
- The proposed solar farm will not require Government subsidy.
- Enso Energy is committed to using local suppliers during construction and operation where possible.
Getting to net zero
The UK Government has signed up to a Renewable Energy Directive to provide 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020 (based on a 2008 baseline). In addition to this, the Government has made a legal commitment to cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 (Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019). To achieve net zero by 2050 will require a rapid and expanded deployment of low carbon power, including solar.
At Enso Energy we are making the idea of a country run on renewable energy a reality. We are one of the UK’s most experienced energy developers. Our ambition is to use the latest solar technology to make a positive impact on our country and the communities we work with. We are firm advocates for renewable, low carbon, efficient, secure and sustainable energy that can be generated, stored and utilised locally. We are passionate about creating positive change for the UK’s energy requirements and carbon commitments. Our innovative and entrepreneurial approach to subsidy-free renewable energy is assisting the country’s move towards a more secure renewable energy supply and accelerating our combined progress to net zero.
Our approach to consultation during the Coronavirus crisis
We are currently living through a pandemic, the likes of which the country has not experienced in living memory. Enso Energy agree with the recent guidance issued by the UK Government’s Chief Planner, which emphasised that planning applications that positively impact the country and local communities must continue to come forward.
Enso Energy believes that it is vital that local communities are able see and shape planning applications that may have an impact on them.
We therefore held a public consultation webinar and Q&A session, a recording of which can be viewed here. If you have any feedback on our draft proposals please fill in the form below.
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