Plans for an innovative renewable energy generation and storage project to the east of Sheffield are set to be revealed.
Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is developing a planning application for a new solar energy park on a 116-hectare piece of agricultural land to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington, around three miles east of Banks’ Penny Hill wind farm.
The Common Farm solar project would have an installed capacity of up to 50MW, which would be enough to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and would displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year.
A 50MW battery energy storage system linking directly into the Thurcroft electricity sub-station around three kilometres to the north of the site would also form part of the project and would help to support the long-term security of energy supplies to UK consumers.
As part of the company’s policy of delivering tangible benefits to the places in which its operations are based, at least £50,000 of the revenues generated by the Common Farm project would be made available every year as part of a package to support local good causes. This equates to more than £2,000,000 through the lifetime of the project.
A detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy is also being developed to ensure the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity to the local community.
Banks Renewables is expecting to submit a planning application to Rotherham Council for the new scheme in the coming months, with a view to it being determined before the end of the year.
A leaflet containing comprehensive information on the project will be delivered to around 11,000 local homes in the coming days, while a dedicated project website has also been set up to ensure information on the scheme is easily available.
Banks Renewables is one of the leading owner/operators in the UK’s onshore wind sector and has a total of 11 operational sites across northern England and Scotland, four of which are in Yorkshire.
The Penny Hill wind farm, the Hook Moor wind farm to the east of Leeds, the Marr wind farm to the west of Doncaster and the Hazlehead wind farm near Barnsley generated almost 89,000 MWh of electricity between them over the 12 months to the end of September 2021, as well as over £50,000 for their respective community benefits funds.
The Penny Hill wind farm’s community fund has also supported a wide range of community projects, with over £202,000 being directed into it so far since the wind farm began generating electricity in 2013 and grants totalling more than £140,000 have already been awarded to local organisations.
Banks Renewables is also currently developing the Barnsdale solar energy park to the south east of Leeds, which will be able to produce enough electricity to meet the annual requirements of up to 12,000 family homes.
Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “Maximising the production of renewable energy from domestic sources is a crucial part of the UK’s ongoing journey towards its Net Zero targets, especially within the current energy security climate, and the Common Farm solar scheme will further extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals.
“The project is located in an area that we know very well, and having conducted a detailed search, we identified this site as providing the best opportunity to create a solar park that links directly into the Thurcroft substation.”
Jill Askew, solar and flex project manager at Banks Renewables, adds: “As more sources of renewable energy are connected to the system, more innovative ways of storing the electricity they produce will be required.
“Peaks of energy demand usually take place in the morning and early evening, but this is not necessarily when renewable energy is being generated.
“The battery energy storage system at Common Farm would help to ensure reliable, stable and balanced electricity grid operation at times of peak demand and would support the UK’s continuing drive towards its Net Zero ambitions.”
Lewis Stokes continues: “We are really looking forward to meeting and working closely with local residents, stakeholders and other community representatives to ensure we develop a comprehensive and detailed planning application, while taking on board their views on what might be delivered in a package of local benefits that will form a key part of the project.
“This will also help to ensure that this package will extend the substantial contribution we’ve been making to enhancing local communities for the best part of a decade.
“We’re excited at what can be achieved through this important project and hope that Rotherham Council’s planning committee will support the vision we’re now developing.”
Full details of the proposed Common Farm solar energy park development can be found at www.banksgroup.co.uk/commonfarm, while members of the project team can be contacted with any queries about the proposals via firstname.lastname@example.org