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Utility provider breaks ground on Irvine wind and solar park

October 4 2021

Utility provider breaks ground on Irvine wind and solar park

Renewables provider The Farm Energy Company is working with pharmaceuticals major GlaxoSmithKline to progress a major wind and solar park at its Irvine plant.

GSK has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with The Farm Energy Company to draw 28MW of power, equivalent to 85% of the plant's energy needs, saving 10,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

To achieve this some 42,000 solar panels and support infrastructure will be laid across 56 acres of land adjacent to the factory, together with a further two 150m wind turbines to join the current pair. Once fully operational this will produce 45GWh of green electricity per annum, sufficient to power around 12,000 homes at the supply point in nearby Kilwinning.

Paul Holmes-Ling, managing partner and co-founder at The Farm Energy Company, said: “This is a significant milestone for GSK and we are delighted to have been able to realise their renewable energy ambitions which will not only have immediate benefits for the Irvine facility but will also create a legacy for the local community through significant bio-diversity improvements.

“We have been pioneering in our approach to combining different technologies in many of our projects. The combination of wind and solar in a large private wire scheme is best suited to GSK’s requirements at the Irvine site, and innovative models like this can show how businesses can reduce costs, improve energy security, and achieve Net Zero goals at the same time.”

Work is already well underway on the project which should complete by spring of next year.

A corporate power purchase agreement means the infrastructure can be delivered with little upfront capital
A corporate power purchase agreement means the infrastructure can be delivered with little upfront capital


#1 Posted by modernish on 5 Oct 2021 at 12:44 PM
There is something slightly suspicious about the figures etc... quoted in this article, also a distinct lack of commercial analysis.
If the GSK plant wants to get all it's power from it's own renewable sources that is entirely laudable and should be applauded. So long as the costs are borne by entirely by GSK (or an provider The Farm Energy Company) without subsidy. It would be wrong for there to be any public money at play to help facilitate this purely private deal.
Where the waters are slightly muddied is the comment about 45GWh enough to power 12,00- homes near the supply point in Kilwinning. This is a complete red herring and an irrelevant statement. All of the electricity produced is going to GSK. This is the quote from the Farm Energy Company website on the project - "Once constructed, all of the power will be sold to GSK under a long term PPA agreement providing a long term, low cost renewable energy solution". Now, it is true any excess is exported to the grid, but that doesn't benefit the good people of Kilwinning as once it's in the grid it can be sold to anybody and everybody as long as they are connected to the power grid.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 6 Oct 2021 at 11:58 AM
Energy use on a per home basis -- the new currency of the renewables PR industry.

One thing missing from the article / analysis is the battery capacity being installed.

Either that or the factory is not going to be running a night shift again -- one the sun goes down on a still night it will be lights off / everybody out.

Also is the solar park being sited on productive farmland?

Less food and more drugs is not what Irvine needs at the moment.
#3 Posted by modernish on 6 Oct 2021 at 13:04 PM
Dear FBoT, the land isn't productive farm land (certainly it's not being used as such or has for as long as i can remember). The plant does operate through the night, so they will still need to import electricity, although perhaps it's at a reduced capacity.
It's a shame there isn't a more detailed account/analysis because this is an interesting proposition and i'm sure one lots of people would be interested in understanding more fully.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#4 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 6 Oct 2021 at 13:49 PM
#4 @ 13.04

Why is the land currently unproductive?
Does it attract a farming subsidy in its current form?

Surely given our balance of payments issues / economic travails we should working all our assets to the max?

Scotland PLC is a bit sloppy at the moment.

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