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Energy entrepreneurs providing £71m of power across the region

PUBLISHED: 16:50 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:47 04 November 2019

An engineer working at the solar farm which RenEnergy installed for Briar Chemicals. Picture: Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

An engineer working at the solar farm which RenEnergy installed for Briar Chemicals. Picture: Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

Tom Wingfield/RenEnergy

Renewable energy projects across Norfolk and Suffolk are producing more than £71m 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.

There are now 95 sites in Suffolk, including wind and solar farms as well as hydro projects, generating 379MW, which is worth some £37m.

Meanwhile, Norfolk has 143 independent renewable projects with a generation capacity of 418.2MW which is worth £34.5m a year and Essex generates a further 311.5MW worth £36.5m - putting all three counties in the top 10 nationally.

Last year saw £5.3m invested in renewable projects in Suffolk, £6.28m in Norfolk and £6.4m in Essex.

Among those investments was 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 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."

In Suffolk, Forest Heath District Council has bought the £14.5m Toggam solar farm near Lakenheath, which generates 12.4MW and brought in £1.2m income in its first year.

A council spokesman said: "Renewable energy generation gives the council a stable, long term investment return as well as making a significant contribution to the organisation's environmental commitments."

In Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex such projects can power the equivalent of 650,000 homes.


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