Westcott Venture Park, the largest business park in Buckinghamshire has announced major plans for the first unsubsidised solar photovoltaic power plant in the UK.
The ground-breaking project will have an installed capacity exceeding 15 Megawatts (MW) and cover some 76 acres within Westcott Venture Park. It will be connected via a new cable connection to the local 33kV grid and include provision for adding battery energy storage at a later date.
The project will make Westcott the first carbon-negative business park in the UK, since the solar plant will generate more power than its tenants use each year – even after allowing for future growth. In doing so, it will make a massive contribution to reducing the Park’s carbon footprint and promoting environmental sustainability.
Rod Mordey a Director of Rockspring Property Investment Managers, on behalf of the owners of the business park said: "This pioneering scheme is the UK’s first unsubsidised on-site solar power plant, proving Westcott Venture Park is the ideal location for forward-looking businesses. We are committed to creating an environmentally sustainable business park and this is one of the key initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint."
Back in 2011, Westcott established its first 1.6 MWp solar plant, comprising 6,102 solar panels over 10 acres. It has generated over 11GWh to date avoiding over 4,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The new project represents a ten-fold increase and will provide an estimated internal rate of return to the investors of in excess of seven percent.
The enlargement will be project-managed by solar specialists WolfeWare, who developed the existing solar plant at Westcott. Founder Philip Wolfe said: “It is a tribute to the progress of solar technology that a project of this size is now viable without any contribution from the government or the tax-payer.” Leading UK solar contractors BSR EPC Ltd are working on the detailed design and are aiming to start construction later in the summer.
Westcott Venture Park is located between Bicester and Aylesbury and boasts a strong history of innovative technological developments. Of these, rocket propulsion research has been perhaps its best known, having been home to various UK test rocket projects since 1946. The 650-acre park is owned by Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust, managed by Lambert Smith Hampton and is home to 76 businesses providing employment for more than 600 people.
The Park is currently undergoing a major transformation from historic testing site into a UK centre of excellence for global technology. It provides a vibrant and modern environment for all business sectors, including sustainable and renewable energy companies as well as rocket propulsion and businesses in the space sector. Westcott has ambitious plans for growth including companies associated with commercial spaceflight and the UK’s forthcoming spaceport.