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Lightsource bp Agrees on Largest UK Airport Solar Project

The Belfast International Airport solar farm will become the UK’s largest solar project connected to an airport.

Lightsource Renewable Energy, Europe’s leading solar energy company, has signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Belfast International Airport for the largest solar project to connect to a UK airport.

Lightsource will hard-wire a 4.84MWp (Megawatts peak) off-site solar farm into the Belfast International Airport private network – providing 27% of the airport’s annual electricity demand.

The entire project is being funded, installed and operated by Lightsource. Belfast International Airport will buy the clean electricity produced by the solar farm via a private wire which connects the installation directly to the user without connecting to the national grid.

By hard-wiring the solar farm directly into the airport, Lightsource will provide the airport with a source of renewable electricity, reduced energy costs and give a boost to their green credentials – with a saving of 2,345 tonnes of carbon emission each year.

Through its PPA offering, Lightsource is able to finance and develop utility-scale solar and energy storage solutions using land near to site – connecting them directly into the supply of major energy users such as factories, warehouses, data centres, transport hubs, leisure centres, chemical plants and water treatment facilities.

By 2017 it is anticipated that non-commodity charges (those costs over and above the wholesale price of the electricity) will become the largest proportion of the cost of delivered electricity. Made up of Government scheme charges, such as the Renewable Obligation and the Capacity Mechanism, along with growing transmission and distribution costs, non-commodity charges are set to increase substantially — by as much as 3p/kWh.

A private-wire PPA can help businesses reduce exposure to energy market volatility and enable load shifting to avoid peak pricing by giving access to clean power at below the cost of importing power from the grid. Drawing power from an off-site solar installation also creates excellent CSR opportunities by helping businesses meet energy and carbon reduction targets.

Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource, said: “We’re very excited to be able to announce the PPA project at Belfast International Airport. There remains huge opportunity for solar energy around the UK and Ireland. Industries around the world have a growing appetite for reliable renewable technologies that help them gain control of spiralling energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Large-scale PPA solar projects provide businesses with an opportunity to do just that by allowing them to fix their energy costs without the need for upfront investment.”

Alan Whiteside, Operations Director at Belfast International Airport, said: “Belfast International Airport is pleased to be working with Lightsource on this unique project. We’re breaking new ground with this exciting venture. Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply.

“This solar farm has the capability to supply all our electricity demands on a peak summer day, and still export via the airport’s internal HV ring to the NI Grid. Lightsource have been extremely professional throughout the process, working closely with the airport’s M&E Projects Supervisor, Colin Sloan, to bring this project to fruition.”

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