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The Square Mile goes where Boris Johnson fears to tread

On the day U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson announced a ten-point ‘green industrial revolution’ plan that made no mention of solar power, the City of London Corporation signed a 15-year, £40 million (€44.8 million) deal to buy all the electricity generated at a 49.9 MW solar park planned in Dorset, in the southwest of England.

The corporation – which is elected largely by representatives of businesses in the ‘Square Mile’, the heart of the nation’s financial district – signed a deal with French renewables company Voltalia which will enable the developer to construct the 95,000-panel solar farm.

The timing of the power purchase agreement (PPA) was not lost on Chris Hewett, chief executive of U.K. photovoltaic trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA). A statement issued by the STA in response to the prime minister’s solar snub quoted Hewett as saying: “Whilst the prime minister might have a blind spot for solar, decisions in the market are likely to outpace his thinking. Today the City of London signed a 15-year deal to fund a new solar park; residential solar installations have already bounced back to pre-pandemic levels; all major utilities are expanding their solar ambitions; and costs continue to fall. Delivering [a] net-zero [carbon economy] is now as much about economics as it is policy.”

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The PPA signed by the City of London authority will offer the organization savings of around £3 million on its energy bill and the solar farm is expected to meet around half the authority’s electricity needs. The deal was described by the energy offtaker and Voltalia – in a joint press release issued today – as “the first of its kind in the U.K. to be signed directly between a renewables producer and governing authority.”

The City of London said it had already been procuring all of its energy from renewables since 2018.

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Source: pv magazine