New 50MW Solar Energy Park Planned for East of Sheffield

Plans are soon to be revealed for an innovative renewable energy generation and storage project to the East of Sheffield.

Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is currently developing the planning application for a large new solar park which would sit on 116-hectare of agricultural land to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington, around three miles east of Banks’ Penny Hill wind farm.

Banks Renewables are expected to submit a planning application to Rotherham Council for the new scheme in the coming months, with a view to it being settled before the end of 2022.

The project would include up to 50MW of solar and a 50MW battery energy storage system, which would be linked directly into the Thurcroft electricity substation, around three kilometres north of the site. The project called the Common Farm solar project would have enough capacity to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and would displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year. The project would help to support the long-term security of energy supplies to UK consumers.

The company is ensuring that the local community are aware of their plans for the site. They plan to deliver a leaflet containing comprehensive information on the project to around 11,000 local homes in the coming days. A dedicated project website has also been set up to ensure information on the scheme is easily available.

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Jill Askew, solar and flex project manager at Banks Renewables said:

“As more sources of renewable energy are connected to the system, more innovative ways of storing the electricity they produce will be required. The battery energy storage system at Common Farm would help to ensure reliable, stable and balanced electricity grid operation at times of peak demand and would support the UK’s continuing drive towards its net zero ambitions.”

Banks Renewables has a policy of delivering real benefits to the places in which its operations are based. At least £50,000 of the income generated by the Common Farm project would be made available every year as part of a package to support local good causes. This would come to more than £2,000,000 over the lifetime of the project.

The company is currently developing a detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy to ensure that the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity to the local community.

Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at The Banks Group, said:

“Maximising the production of renewable energy from domestic sources is a crucial part of the UK’s ongoing journey towards its net zero targets, especially within the current energy security climate, and the Common Farm solar scheme will further extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals. The project is located in an area that we know very well, and having conducted a detailed search, we identified this site as providing the best opportunity to create a solar park that links directly into the Thurcroft substation.”

As one of the leading owner/operators in the UK’s onshore wind sector Banks Renewables already owns and operates 11 onshore wind projects in England and Scotland, including 4 in Yorkshire such as the Penny Hill site.

The Penny Hill wind farm, the Hook Moor wind farm to the east of Leeds, the Marr wind farm to the west of Doncaster and the Hazlehead wind farm near Barnsley generated almost 89,000 MWh of electricity between them over the 12 months to the end of September 2021, as well as over £50,000 for their respective community benefits funds.

The Penny Hill wind farm’s community fund has supported a broad range of community projects, with over £202,000 being directed into it so far since the wind farm began generating electricity in 2013. So far grants totalling more than £140,000 have been awarded to local organisations.

The company is also currently developing the 40MW Barnsdale solar energy park to the south-east of Leeds, which was recommended for approval by Leeds City Council’s planning officers in June 2021. This commercial solar site will be able to produce enough electricity to meet the annual requirements of up to 12,000 family homes.

Lewis Stoke said that his company is really looking forward to meeting and working closely with residents, stakeholders and other community representatives to ensure that they develop an extensive and detailed planning application for the Common Farm solar project. He said they also want to hear their views on what might be delivered in a package of local benefits that will form a key part of the project. The company are excited about what can be achieved with this important project and hope that Rotherham Council’s planning committee will support the vision they’re now developing.

Banks Renewables’ extensive work on projects that are helping to secure the UK’s energy security is in line with the government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. The Prime Minister promised to create and support up to 250,000 British jobs through investment in green energy, technology and nature. He said that the government would invest £1bn to make homes, schools and hospitals greener, and install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. These actions will be crucial in meeting the government’s new carbon emissions target, which constitutes a 68% reduction from 1990 levels, by 2030.

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