Government to expand solar on its estate announcing two PV installations at prisons

Government to expand solar on its estate announcing two PV installations at prisons

Published: 10 Feb 2021, 14:54

Image: Gov Facility Services Ltd.

Plans to rollout solar PV across two Southern England prisons have been unveiled by Gov Facility Services Ltd (GFSL).

Rooftop solar is to be installed at HMP Bure near Norwich in Norfolk, to reduce reliance on the existing electric load by 17% and save 79 tonnes of CO2 a year. It comes after six months of planning, with the installation of the array is to be completed by the end of March 2021.

A second project is also underway at Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire, GFSL said, where ground-based solar panels are being installed. The installation is scheduled to be completed in July.

GFSL energy services manager Stewart Grew said the initiative is a “prime example of using clean energy to create ‘eco-prisons’ and not just meet but exceed the Ministry of Justice’s carbon reduction targets by 2025”.

Other projects in the pipeline including the installation of heat pumps, biomass boilers and an LED lighting replacement programme.

The government has a somewhat fraught history when it comes to the rollout of solar on its own estate, having unveiled plans to install 1GW on HMG property in 2014 as it announced in its UK Solar PV Strategy document that it would be “playing its part” to boost solar.

However, Solar Power Portal revealed in 2018 that the programme was shuttered just 17 months after it was launched following cuts to solar subsidies, with no formal announcement made. Additionally, only 100MW of the 1GW promised was installed as part of the programme, with this split between two ~50MW AC ground-mount projects on former airfields owned by the Ministry of Defence.

This prompted heavy criticism, with Leonie Greene, then-director of advocacy and new markets at the Solar Trade Association – now rebranded to Solar Energy UK – describing the decision to scrap the programme as having captured the “volatility of solar policy” and prevented the government from “leading by example”.

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