Swindon was hailed for its pioneering approach to green energy at The Green Finance conference in Leeds held on 31 January 2019. The conference was organised by UK100 Cities Network and included a keynote speech from the energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry.
Barnfield solar farm, which was completed by Public Power Solutions last year and powers the recycling centre in Swindon was highlighted as a case study for other Local Authorities to follow.
Director of UK100 Polly Billington said: "The innovation we see in Swindon is what we need across the country. Many local authorities can learn from Swindon’s approach and adapt their learning to develop clean energy projects in their own communities. These can create jobs, generate income and improve the quality of people’s lives.
"If they are to get off the ground, these projects need a helping hand in the form of know-how and funding, as the people at Public Power Solutions will attest."
Steve Cains, head of Public Power Solutions, believes there are clear opportunities ahead for local authorities if Green Finance funding can be unlocked. He explained: "Having a great track record with large-scale community solar projects, Public Power Solutions is now thinking differently about post-subsidy renewables, utilising new forms of finance, innovative PPA structures and new technologies to create subsidy-free projects which benefit local authorities and the communities they serve.
"Access to low-cost finance and long-term ownership of land and buildings creates great opportunities for the public sector but getting the projects ready is a challenge, as not every local council has the capacity or skills to deliver. If Green Finance is to flow in the UK, that's where we need to see change."
The Barnfield project cost £2.2 million and generates enough energy per year to save 1075 tonnes pa in carbon. It has saved £185,000 in electricity costs in the first year already.
Cllr Maureen Penny, cabinet member for highways and the environment, Swindon Borough Council, added: “This is the latest example of how we’ve been able to use renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint as well as save a significant amount of money at a time when we have to deliver large savings from our budget. I am delighted we have been able to flick the switch to this green energy source.”