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City businesses helping contribute to renewable energy generation

PUBLISHED: 16:49 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:49 04 May 2018

The solar farm which RenEnergy installed for Briar Chemicals. Picture: Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

The solar farm which RenEnergy installed for Briar Chemicals. Picture: Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

Renewable energy projects across Norfolk are producing more than £34.5m worth of electricity a year as businesses continue to invest in independent power.

Briar Chemicals site manager Tim Green at the Norwich facility.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Briar Chemicals site manager Tim Green at the Norwich facility. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Despite a fall in renewable subsidies slowing growth companies have continued to seek ways of making schemes, such as solar farms and biomass generators, financially viable, according to the Energy Entrepreneurs Report from SmartestEnergy.

Norfolk has 143 independent renewable projects, ranging from solar and wind farms to biomass boilers, with a generation capacity of 418.2MW – which is worth £34.5m a year and puts the county in the top 10 nationally.

The energy generated powers the equivalent of 206,000 homes and on average the projects have cost £602,000.

Last year saw £6.28m invested in projects which included a 6,508 solar panel farm on Briar Chemicals’ factory site on the Sweet Briar Industrial Estate in Norwich.

Managing director Tim Green said the project, which is run alongside RenEnergy, was one of several energy efficiency schemes in place and one which made financial sense in the long term.

He said: “Our solar farm generates 1.7MW on a day when the sun is out and that is enough to feed all of our needs for production and our office blocks during the day time.

“The arrangement we have means we use that as a preference and then draw from the grid if we need more.”

The site also has a combined heat and power plant which uses a boiler to drive a turbine by steam power.

Mr Green, who estimated the firm had spent hundreds of thousands on renewable schemes, said: “These projects do cost quite a lot up front but there is a business reason for doing it, it makes sense for us commercially.

“There is a long realisation time but that is something we are willing to undertake as we are planning to be here for the long haul.”

Nationally more than 8.4 million households can now be powered by projects outside of the traditional energy supply sector, making up 9.2% if the energy mix.

Norwich firm Pixie Energy has launched its Smarter Norwich project which seeks to make investment in renewable schemes more appealing and better connect such projects.

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