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Work starts on North Ayrshire Council's first solar farm

Posted on 6 Feb 2024

Work is now under way on North Ayrshire Council’s pioneering plans to build its first two solar PV farms.

To mark the start of the works, North Ayrshire Provost Anthea Dickson performed the groundbreaking ceremony at Nethermains – a former landfill site between Irvine and Kilwinning.

This will be the first of the two Council solar farms, with works commencing at the second site at Shewalton in Irvine shortly afterwards.

These projects are believed to be the first solar farms to be owned and operated by a local authority in Scotland and mark a major milestone in the Council’s bid to cut carbon emissions.

As well as raising revenue for the Council which can be reinvested into North Ayrshire, Nethermains alone is expected to create enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes.

Provost Anthea Dickson formally marked the beginning of construction work yesterday (Monday, February 5) at the 24.3-hectare site, which is near Bartonholm Waste Recycling Centre.

She was joined by Eco-committee pupils at nearby Blacklands Primary School to mark the occasion, as well as elected members and representatives from Ameresco who are constructing the solar farms on behalf of the Council.

Councillor Tony Gurney, Cabinet Member for Green Environment and Economy at North Ayrshire Council said: “This is a momentous day for the Council and our ongoing efforts to combat climate change and cut carbon emissions.

“We want to lead by example and this solar farm at Nethermains – to be soon followed by a second solar farm at Shewalton – will make a massive difference to our efforts.

“It’s perhaps fitting that the site of this solar PV farm at Nethermains is a former landfill site. After lying dormant for years, it will now have a new lease of life creating clean, green energy and helping us to reach net zero by 2030.”

The creation of the two solar farms – which represent a £12.465 million investment - are key elements of delivery of the Council's Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy and will have the added bonus of earning income for the Council to help sustain local services and provide community benefits by selling the electricity generated via a Power Purchase Agreement.

The Nethermains solar farm will feature more than 12,000 solar panels once installation is complete later this year. It is expected to generate approximately 7,700MWh of electricity annually.

Mark Apsey, Managing Director at Ameresco, said: "Ameresco is excited to be working in partnership with North Ayrshire council on this important renewable energy project. We expect the solar PV facilities will make a significant impact on the regions carbon emissions whilst providing green electricity and employment opportunities for the local communities."

Work on the Shewalton solar PV farm is expected to get under way shortly and, like Nethermains, is on track to begin producing energy later this year. It will generate around 5,400MWh to supply the local electricity grid once operational.

The annual reduction in CO2 emissions is estimated at 2,700 tonnes of CO2 per year based on the combined annual energy generation of over 13,000 MWh.