Old coal mines set to be transformed into solar farms

Will Nichols
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Anesco announces plans for up to 30MW of solar capacity at collieries in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire

Huge solar farms are set to transform former collieries into green energy powerhouses providing low carbon electricity for around 10,000 homes.

UK developer Anesco is set to install up to 30MW of solar energy capacity at three sites in Nottinghamshire, Welbeck Colliery in Mansfield, Gedling in Lambley and a third site in Bilsthorpe, while a fourth site at Askern in South Yorkshire is awaiting planning consent.

Work on the ground-mounted solar installations is expected to start later this year, with the sites expected to save 15 tonnes of carbon during each of its 25 years in operation.

Anesco said Welbeck Colliery is likely to be the first site to come online. The 32-acre installation will comprise of 44,160 solar panels mounted on around 15km of frames that have a combined generation capacity of 11.2MW - sufficient energy to power more than 3,450 homes in the local area. This will be followed by 5.74MW installations at both Gedling and Bilsthorpe, and an installation currently in the planning stage for Askern.

The government has moved to redirect funding towards rooftop rather than ground-mounted installations, cutting payments under the ROCs subsidy scheme for large solar farms over 5MW in capacity in a move Labour says could reduce predicted deployment by 30 per cent.

However, Anesco chief executive Adrian Pike insisted the schemes fitted in with the government's drive to grow solar capacity on brownfield sites.

"These sites are based in the Midlands and north of England, which is important as we believe it is essential that solar developments are made across the UK and not just in the south west," he added.

"Through these installations we will not only be regenerating disused land but will be creating employment, generating renewable energy and helping to reduce the UK's carbon emissions."

The plans come after Partnerships for Renewables unveiled a pioneering new two turbine development at an old coal mine spoil tip earlier this month. The 4MW wind farm at the old Oakdale Colliery in South Wales is expected to deliver around 10GWh a year to the grid and result in annual carbon emissions savings of around 4,400 tonnes.

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