The Coal Authority has flagged the success of its solar power installations in helping to decarbonise its operations around the UK, as it looks to extend the rollout.
It’s Bates mine water treatment scheme near Blyth, Northumberland, for example, started operating on 1 March 2019. It is the non-departmental public body within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s seventh solar installation since rolling out the technology in 2016.
Since it started operating, the Bates installation has generated 1,370,000kWh of electricity. The cost of electricity to run the water treatment plant was in the region of £75,000 a year prior to the solar installation, and is now £21,000 said the Coal Authority, a reduction of 72%.
The Coal Authority conducted extensive investigations before choosing the sites for the solar installions said Bohdan Iwanskyj, the lead for solar energy projects.
“The decision on the size of the scheme ultimately depends on the capacity of the local electricity grid as well as the energy being consumed by the pumps. There is no point in producing excess amounts of electricity if we cannot make use of it and export it. Every site is individual in its layout and the problems it poses. However, they all have one factor in common – each site must have the potential to pay for itself and continue to play its part, protecting the environment.”
The Bates site has 2,112 solar panels and a capacity of 550,000kWh, and has been performing above the expected capacity hitting 570kWp at its peak. Typically, 200,000kWh of this is used for mine water treatment, and 350,000kWh is exported to the grid.
It is estimated to save the Coal Authority £25,000 a year in electricity costs, as well as benefitting from £8,250 in Feed-in-Tariff payments as well as £20,750 in export payments to National Grid.
It has focused on implementing the most recent advances in solar to enhance energy production added Colin Lambert, the Coal Authority’s Innovation Manager.
“This emphasis on innovation and investment has enabled us to further our ambitions in sustainable development. We have drafted plans to set up further solar power installations in the future which we are equally excited about.”