Manchester City Council could buy its own solar farm with options to be discussed by city councils later this month.
The idea is one of two options that emerged from a study examining how the Council can get involved in large-scale renewable energy production as part of its broader ambitions to tackle climate change.
The Council’s 2020-25 Climate Change Action Plan aims to cut its direct CO2 emissions in half by 2025 to support the city’s goal of becoming carbon-free by 2038. As part of the plan, a CO2 reduction of 7,000 tons per year – which corresponds to almost half of the total savings by 2025 – is aimed at through large-scale renewable energy generation.
One possibility to achieve this, concluded the feasibility study and the evaluation of the options of the public advisory body Local Partnerships, would be the purchase of a photovoltaic system (PV) by the municipality, also known as a solar park.
This would generate directly renewable energy, which improves energy security and gives the Council more certainty about future costs.
The estimated budget required to purchase such a facility would be between $ 27 million.
The study concludes that Manchester or Greater are unable to find suitable locations for the solar park – which would have to be an estimated 100 hectares (equivalent to about 150 soccer fields) to generate enough energy to meet the council’s full ambitions are Manchester and the Council may need to look elsewhere in the country. The council has already maximized the generation of renewable energy with roof-mounted solar cells in its own buildings, for example in the Wythenshawe Forum.
The other option identified is for the council to negotiate one or more power purchase agreements directly with a renewable energy facility so that it can know exactly where its energy is coming from.
It is recommended that the council take a two-pronged approach and form a delivery team to develop both the solar farm acquisition options and the electricity purchase agreement. A final decision will be made later on which option to choose to meet the Council’s CO2 reduction targets, or whether the answer is a combination of both.
This should depend on whether a suitable solar park is available for sale at the right time.
Councilor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment, Manchester City Council, said:
“Some people will smile at the idea that Manchester could invest in solar power.
“We’re famous for many things, but while our weather is actually better than its stereotypical image, wall-to-wall sunshine is not one of them.
“Climate change is no joke, however, and we are determined to ensure that we take radical steps to maximize the Council’s use of renewable energy and help meet our goal of at least halving our direct emissions by 2025. We are committed to doing our best “to help reduce CO2 emissions and limit the effects of climate change.”
The options will be discussed at the Environment and Climate Change Audit Committee meeting on October 14 and the Executive Committee meeting on October 20.