Low Carbon develops UK’s largest community solar park

Rights to 19MW Arncott/Ray Valley Solar Park acquired by Oxfordshire-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub

Low Carbon Ltd to provide project and asset management support

23 November 2020: Low Carbon Limited has agreed a deal with Oxfordshire-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub for the rights to its 19MW Arncott Solar Park. Once built, the project, called Ray Valley Solar, will be the largest community-owned solar park in the UK, generating 18GWh clean electricity per year – enough to power more than 6,000 homes.

Low Carbon Limited secured planning permission for the solar park in May and will remain involved in the construction and long-term management of the site on behalf of its new social enterprise partner.

The community energy deal marks a key milestone in Low Carbon Limited’s 4GW renewable energy pipeline as the first full-service transaction and first subsidy-free project for the leading renewable energy investment and asset manager.

Anticipated to comprise 45,000 solar panels, with battery storage also approved, the park will form part of Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO), one of the most ambitious smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK. When operational, the park will provide a crucial ‘anchor load’ of clean electricity generation needed to demonstrate the potential of the coordinated use of local generation, storage and demand in decarbonising the energy system.

Oxfordshire councils have declared a climate emergency and there are growing calls for a transition to a zero-carbon energy system. The Ray Valley Solar project will take Oxfordshire a step closer to achieving this aim, saving approximately 4,200 tonnes of CO2 being emitted annually and represents a five-fold increase in the annual clean energy generation for Low Carbon Hub’s portfolio of 47 renewable energy projects.

Commenting on the deal, Low Carbon Chief Executive, Roy Bedlow, said: “Delivering renewable energy at scale is a key Low Carbon objective and we are delighted to partner with Low Carbon Hub to make Oxfordshire’s community energy and smart grid ambitions a reality. This is our first subsidy-free solar project and we look forward to our long-term involvement through asset management to maximise the renewable energy output of the site.”

Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO, Low Carbon Hub added: “We are so thrilled to be building our first ever ground mount solar park, which will have a significant impact on the amount of green electricity produced in Oxfordshire. We are committed to putting community energy at the heart of the new zero carbon energy system and are so excited to open up the Community Energy Fund for new investment to enable people to own part of this exciting project. We share a common goal and ethos in tackling climate change with Low Carbon, and we can’t wait for this project to be realised.”

To finance the project, Low Carbon Hub has reopened its Community Energy Fund and is inviting investment from as little as £100 up to £100,000. Investors in the Fund will be joining over 1,300 people who together have invested £7 million in support of community energy in Oxfordshire. Before the Fund even opened, over £250,000 of investment had been pledged.*


Notes to editors:

* Capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed.

About Ray Valley Solar

  • A ground mount solar park with an installed capacity of 19 MW
  • Located near Arncott, three miles south east of Bicester, it neighbours an MOD logistics site, HM Bullingdon prison and two existing solar parks
  • Annual generation of 18 GWh
  • Annual CO2 savings of ~4,200 tonnes
  • Project lifetime of 40 years
  • It will keep £2.6 million worth of energy spend in the local economy each year
  • Create £13 million community benefit funding over lifetime of the project

About Low Carbon Limited

Low Carbon is a leading renewable energy investment and asset management company committed to making a positive and significant impact on climate change through the development and operation of renewable energy at scale. Low Carbon invests in renewable energy projects across a range of renewable energy technologies including solar PV, wind, energy storage, waste-to-energy and energy efficiency. To date, its investments have avoided more than 755,000 tonnes of CO2, enough clean energy to power more than 255,000 homes. Low Carbon has a proven track record in the development, construction, financing and management of renewable energy assets and remains involved in the projects for the long term with a dedicated asset management team that manages assets on balance sheet and for third parties. The team is actively engaged in the UK and European waste-to-energy market and with a renewable energy pipeline of more than 4GW, they are well-positioned to capitalise on opportunities as the need for renewable energy and energy security increases. www.lowcarbon.com

About the Low Carbon Hub

Low Carbon Hub is a social enterprise out to prove we can meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people and good for the planet. We develop community-owned renewable energy projects in Oxfordshire and re-invest 100% of the surplus into supporting local communities in carbon-cutting projects: www.lowcarbonhub.org

About the Community Energy Fund:

Investment in the Community Energy Fund made into the Low Carbon Hub IPS Limited, a Registered Society that operates for the benefit of the community.

Find out more at www.lowcarbonhub.org/invest