Work starts on combined wind and solar project at GSK’s Irvine facility

The Farm Energy Company has reached financial close and broken ground on its 28MW solar and wind power development at GSK’s Irvine facility, one of Scotland’s largest individual consumers of electricity.

Work starts on combined wind and solar project at GSK's Irvine facility

Once completed, the scheme will substantially reduce energy costs and carbon output at the site.

The investment features a ground-breaking 20-year power purchase agreement with GSK on a private wire basis resulting in the creation of a new solar farm with an installed capacity of 19.9MWp and two new wind turbines of 4MW each. As a result, 85% of GSK’s Irvine energy needs will be met onsite as well as saving around 10,000 tonnes of carbon each year. The power purchase agreement ensures only a small capital investment is needed by the client.

The solar farm will include around 42,000 solar panels with structure support and electrical infrastructure installed within 56 acres (23 hectares) of land at the GSK site.

Two further Enercon (E126) wind turbines with a hub height of nearly 150m will also be built, adding to the existing two turbines. There will also be dedicated site infrastructure including a new substation and cable connecting the site to the supply point at Kilwinning.

When fully operational, the solar farm and turbines will produce 45 GWh of green electricity each year, which is enough to power approximately 12,000 homes, and replace the electricity that is currently drawn from the grid.

Work is well underway, and installation is scheduled for completion in late spring 2022.

Work starts on combined wind and solar project at GSK's Irvine facility

The Farm Energy Company specialises in the design, build, finance and operation of renewable technologies for large energy users, with a number of others under development.

Paul Holmes-Ling, managing partner and co-founder, 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.”

GSK Irvine site director, Cammy Mitchell, said: “The production of our life-saving product is a very power-hungry process. GSK Irvine is now taking its biggest step yet to end its reliance on electricity generated elsewhere.

“The power purchase agreement with The Farm Energy Company builds on a series of investments in wind, biomass and biogas and will cut emissions by some 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“It will also allow us to make the single biggest contribution to GSK’s global renewable electricity target.

“GSK’s commitment is not just to becoming carbon net zero but also becoming nature positive. We are delighted that the contract includes an investment in enhancing the biodiversity of the significant area of land around our site.”

Debt finance was provided by Lloyds Bank, with Ikarus Capital Advisory acting as financial adviser and CMS as legal adviser to Farm Energy in the transaction.

Jonas Persson, managing director, sustainability & ESG finance, Lloyds Bank, said: “Funding the development of renewable power generation will be crucial to achieving Net Zero status in the UK by 2050.

“In particular, low risk technologies such as onshore wind and solar will play a role by facilitating the transition away from Government subsidies.

“As part of Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Financing Initiative, we are proud to complete our first renewable energy financing backed by a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement and to support both Farm Energy Company and GSK in helping to deliver the UK’s carbon reduction targets.”

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