Manchester considers radical renewable energy options

Manchester City Council could buy its own solar farm under options to be discussed by councillors later this month to help the authority halve its direct carbon emissions by 2025.

The solar farm ownership is one of two options to emerge from a study into how the city council can get involved in large scale renewable energy generation as part of its wider ambitions to tackle climate change.

Under Manchester City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan a carbon reduction of 7,000 tonnes a year – equating to almost half of the total saving by 2025 - is being targeted through large scale renewable energy generation.

According to the feasibility study, one way of achieving this would be for the council to buy a solar photovoltaic (PV) facility, which would produce renewable energy directly – improving energy security and giving the council greater certainty over future costs.  

The estimated budget required to purchase such a facility would be between £27 million and £30 million but with a lifespan of up to 40 years a solar farm, the options appraisal suggests it would represent a good return on the investment. A suitable site for the solar farm may need to be found outside of the Greater Manchester region.

The other option identified is for Manchester City Council to negotiate a power purchase agreement, or agreements, directly with a renewable energy facility so it can be confident exactly where how its energy has been sourced.  

Tracey Rawlins, executive member for Environment for Manchester City Council, said: “Some people will have a chuckle at the idea that Manchester might invest in solar power generation. We’re famed for many things but, while our weather is actually better than its stereotypical image, wall to wall sunshine isn’t one of them.  

“Climate change, though, is no joke and we are determined to ensure that we take radical steps to maximise the Council’s use of renewable energy and help meet our target of at least halving our direct emissions by 2025. We are committed to playing our full part in cutting carbon emissions and limiting the effects of climate change.” 

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