A solar energy farm said to be the most advanced in the UK and possibly the world will open near York this autumn.
Panels will be installed on land at Boscar Grange Farm to the east of the A19, 12 miles north of the city near Easingwold.
It is one of two such farms being built by sustainable energy company Gridserve to generate power to help Warrington Borough Council become the first local authority in the country to produce all its own electricity from clean power.
Toddington Harper, chief executive of Gridserve, said:
These will be the most advanced solar farms in the UK – and quite possibly the world – ushering in a new era of subsidy-free, truly sustainable energy.
Construction work is due to start at the 198-acre site imminently. It is due to become operational by October.
Reduce fuel poverty
The electricity will also be sold on the open market – and a number of other councils have already expressed an interest in buying it.
Leader of Warrington Borough Council Cllr Russ Bowden said no suitable sites for the solar panel farm were identified within the town, but there was an opportunity to build a facility near York.
It has been our ambition to develop a solar farm to supply the council with energy.
The York facility will allow the council to generate additional energy that can be sold to other interested organisations, including other local authorities.
The solar farms will secure our energy supply, give us control over our energy prices, contribute to reducing fuel poverty and generate an estimated operating surplus of £150 million over 30 years that can be invested back into the most important front-line services.
Hambleton District Council granted planning permission for the scheme in 2015 and it was supported by Askham Bryan College and a professor from the University of York.
But some residents said the proposals were too large and would have an impact on wildlife.
Planning documents say the panels will have a “lake-like appearance” and would be at most 2.5 metres above ground.
The report says: “The areas between them would be capable of some agricultural use, with sheep grazing, bee keeping and arable production (including fruit and vegetable growing).”
They will generate about 49.9 MW of power and the scheme is expected to save Warrington Council £1 million a year on its electricity bill.
The authority has agreed to pay £62.34 million for two solar farms – a second is near Hull – and will take over ownership when they are operational.