Plans have been submitted for the first grid-scale solar farm and battery storage in the Isle of Man.
If built, developers Peel Cubico Renewables (PCR) say it would provide affordable renewable electricity to residents and businesses and help improve the island’s energy security.
Following a public consultation in October and November, in which 90% of Manx residents that responded stressed the importance of renewable energy generation in the island, planning permission is now being sought for the Billown Solar Farm in Malew, near Castletown.
The new facility, which could be operational next year, would be built on 84 acres of agricultural land to the west of Malew Road (A3) and south of Douglas Road (A7). The solar farm would have an installed capacity of around 27MW – enough to power nearly 8,000 homes per year, almost 21% of total households in the island.
The battery storage facility would have a capacity of 24MW and would enable electricity to be stored and exported to help Manx Utilities balance its grid network and provide energy security to the local network during times of peak demand.
A statement from PCR said: ‘The solar farm would generate enough power to meet more than 7% of the Isle of Man’s current electricity demand and support the Government’s aim for electricity on the island to be 100% green by 2030.
‘It would also help the island to become less vulnerable to volatile oil and gas prices – something which 93% of residents raised concerns about during the public consultation phase.’
The project represents an investment of around £30m across the 40-year anticipated life of the project, at no cost to public finances.
Each year, it is estimated it would offset at least 11,000 tonnes of carbon - the equivalent of approximately 6,600 fewer car journeys per year.
PCR has also said it would also set up a Community Benefit Fund to provide financial support to local groups for community projects.
PCR is a joint venture formed in 2021 between natural resources and energy business Peel NRE (part of Peel L&P) and Cubico Sustainable Investments, one of the world’s largest privately-owned renewable energy companies.
Stephen Snowdon, planning and development manager at Peel Cubico Renewables said: ‘We have held an extensive, island-wide consultation on our plans to hear from a broad range of people and residents’ feedback has shown that there is a real fear over rising energy prices and a desire for the Island to generate its own energy to keep costs down.
‘The majority of people who’ve been in touch are supportive of our plans for this solar farm and for their electricity to be renewably sourced and we’re confident that this development is a great opportunity for stable and low-cost energy to be provided to residents and businesses.
‘The solar farm could be up and running in 2024 to help the Isle of Man to address climate change and secure a bright economic future for the island.’