Work Begins On Army’s First Solar Farm To Support Its Commitment To Sustainability

The installation of a 2.3MW photovoltaic solar farm at the British Army’s Defence School of Transport (DST) in Leconfield is part of a major project expected to deliver £1million in efficiency savings and a massive reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The project will support the Government’s commitment to meet Net Carbon Emissions by 2050.

Delivered by Centrica Business Solutions, the solar farm is the first of four photovoltaic solar farm sites to be built on the Army’s vast estate as part of Project PROMETHEUS, which are designed to increase renewable energy across the Defence estate.

Greg Mckenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said:

“We are proud to support the army launch what is an ambitious sustainability programme. It is incumbent on organisations big and small to show leadership in meeting net zero, and the army is doing just that.

Large scale solar projects like this can create significant cost and carbon savings, helping customers accelerate their transition to a sustainable future.”

Centrica Business Solutions started construction of the 2.3MW solar farm earlier this year. The DST site covers an area the size of six football pitches and consists of 4,248 Trina Vertex panels that are predicted to generate up to one third of the electricity needed on site. It will produce enough power to supply much of the site’s infrastructure including the single soldiers and family’s accommodation the offices, classrooms, and gym.

Together, the four pilot sites are expected to result in £1million in efficiency savings and to reduce emissions by 2,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. These cost savings will be reinvested into Army infrastructure and help to reach the Army’s own ambition of Net Zero by 2045.

Major General David Southall, director basing and infrastructure and the Army’s sustainability champion, said:

“The Army remains wholly committed to play its part in meeting the UK’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To deliver this, we are working hard to reduce energy demand as well as increase ‘green’ supply across our estate.

Project PROMETHEUS is an exciting pilot which will showcase renewable energy generation across the Army estate. When operational, we will learn from our four pilot sites and scale-up fast across the wider Army estate to help decarbonise the power we use.”

The three remaining solar farms planned for construction will be based at Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney, Gloucestershire; Rock Barracks, Suffolk; and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, Sussex and are scheduled for delivery by summer 2021. Beyond the pilot project, the Army hopes to deliver a further circa 80 solar farms across its estate over the next seven years.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said:

“Project Prometheus is an example of how Defence is actioning its all-encompassing approach to reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability, announced last week.

The Army, through Prometheus, is showing our commitment to positive green initiatives, driving impressive energy efficiency savings.”

Project Prometheus is one of several sustainable initiatives undertaken by the army to support the UK Net Zero legislation. Project TAURUS saw a solar carport with electric car charging ports and battery storage built at the British Army Headquarters. The second phase of this project will go on to install a further six solar carports across the UK.

Project KELPIE is a pilot scheme which is looking at thermal battery storage, and project Romulus is working on the development of a ‘digital twin’ system for managing buildings’ carbon footprints. This system collects and collates data on how the infrastructure works. Further to this there are initiatives such as buildings Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS) which is working on improving sub-metering across the estate and near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) which is looking at making the estate more sustainable by enhancing the energy efficiency of Single living accommodation (SLA).

The army further shows its commitment to sustainability with Project MARKER which is a habitation creation scheme and a natural capital research project with Exeter University.

The Commandant of the Defence School of Transport, Colonel Chris Henson is very pleased that the Defence School of Transport site was chosen as the first solar farm site within Defence. He said that becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable was something they are definitely focusing on at the school though he acknowledges that they are a long way off becoming carbon neutral.