Lark Energy’s Innovative Solar Farm at Hanson’s Cement Works Scoops Two National Solar Awards

For the second year running Lark Energy has picked up two prestigious awards for one of its projects.

Lark Energy  - Solar Power Portal Award 2014The company's solar farm at Hanson Cement's Ketton Works in Rutland won the award for best Ground-Mount Solar Site under 10MWp at the Solar Power Portal Awards.  It also recently picked up first prize in the UK Solar Awards for Large Ground Mount Installation.

Lark Energy, working in partnership with Hanson and Armstrong Energy, successfully completed and connected the 9MWp solar farm earlier this year. This is the first phase of the project with a further 3MWp currently being completed to the south of the plant.

The project has been built on 20 hectares of former quarry belonging to Hanson Cement. The 38,544 modules will generate enough energy to cover around 10% of the Cement work’s annual consumption. This will not only reduce the company’s carbon emissions but will also contribute to improving the per capita carbon emissions of Rutland, the smallest county in the UK.

The project was jointly developed by Lark Energy and Armstrong Energy with the latter providing funding partly through an innovative PPA arrangement with Hanson. The company will receive a proportion of the energy for free with the remainder being provided at a market reflective rate.

The project also required a pioneering approach to managing the grid connection. The power from the solar farm connects into Hanson’s private 11kv network which is itself connected to Western Power Distribution’s 33kv network. Lark Energy has designed the solar farm to enable active and reactive power management and to protect the grid from reverse current. This has a number of advantages, including minimising the need for costly 33kv upgrade work, reducing the energy costs for Hanson and enabling the inverters to be used as capacitor batteries at night.

The solar farm was officially opened today by Hanson’s CEO Patrick O’Shea. Lark Energy’s Managing Director. Jonathan Selwyn and Andrew Newman, Director of Armstrong Energy were also in attendance.

“It has been very rewarding for the Hanson Renewable Energy Team to see the first of their projects come to fruition with the switch on of the Hanson Cement Solar Farm at Ketton” said Mark Cox of Hanson Cement. “This is the first of what is hoped are many such projects the company will be involved in over the coming years as we strive to reduce our CO2 emissions and energy costs”

Jonathan Selwyn, Managing Director of Lark Energy commented “We are delighted to have worked with Hanson Cement and Armstrong Energy to develop this innovative solar project. Large scale solar is perfectly suited to projects such as this on previously used industrial land and where all the energy can be utilised directly by nearby businesses. We look forward to working on some further projects like this in the coming months.”

Steve Mahon, Director of Armstrong Energy added: “Armstrong Energy prides itself on being creative in structuring a deal to ensure all sides benefit. This project with Hanson and Lark Energy is an exemplar of this approach and includes an innovative power sales agreement that builds a sustainable market advantage for the host. We believe this approach can be used with large energy users both in the UK and overseas and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with both Hanson and Lark Energy.”