Energy giant Centrica has completed the British Army’s first solar PV farm, a 2.3MWp installation powering the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield, north of Hull, with up to 2.3GWh per year.
Arrays incorporating over 4,000 modules and covering an area of four hectares, nearly eight football pitches, were erected between mid-May and September. Jeremy Quin MP, minister for defence procurement, opened the facility today.
Leconfield is a centre for training HGV drivers enlisted in the Army, RAF and Royal Marines. Many of the 150 military drivers currently being deployed on civilian petrol distribution will have trained there.
The Yorkshire base is the first fruit of the British Army’s £200 million Project Prometheus investment, designed to boost the Army’s generation and on-site use of renewables.
Three further Prometheus pilots include a 1.4MWp array at The Duke of Gloucester’s barracks near Cirencester, developed by Swindon-based Public Power Solutions and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.
Arrays at Rock Barracks in Suffolk and Baker Barracks in Thorney Island, Sussex are due to power up this year.
Across the four pilots, around £1 million, or a third of the bases’ yearly electricity bills, will be freed up, releasing cash for reinvestment in essential Army infrastructure.
Up to eighty more Army-sponsored PV farms may follow by 2031.
Major General David Southall, the Army’s director of basing and infrastructure, said, “Our first operational solar farm at Leconfield marks a key milestone in the Army’s go-green agenda; it showcases our firm commitment to tackle the effects of climate change, harnessing renewable energy.
“Leconfield is the first of four pilot sites to open this year. Each builds on our knowledge and expertise, enabling us to upscale and deliver a total of 80 solar farms across the Army Estate within the decade. we continue to Think Big – Start Small – Scale Fast.”
Outlined in the recent Defence Command Paper, innovation and green initiatives will be at the forefront of a future Army, of which Project Prometheus forms a part. This is further supported by a £24 billion increase in spending over four years, announced by Prime Minister Johnson in November.
“By showing leadership on sustainability and carbon reduction, the Army has put in place a template which the rest of the public sector and industry can replicate,” added Greg McKenna, managing director of Centrica Business Solutions.
Other MoD-related solar projects have included Wiltshire’s two former airbases at RNAY Wroughton and the closed RAF Lyneham, home now to the 70 MWp Bradenstoke solar park.
In Greek myth, Prometheus was the god who passed the gift of fire to humanity. He was punished by Zeus by being strapped to a rock, and having his liver picked out by an eagle.