UK: 5 MW solar farm to be built at country’s last deep coal mine

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Solar energy is to take up the mantle at a disused former coal mine in the north of England, in a symbolic announcement confirmed one year after the plant closed, bringing to an end the U.K.’s underground coal-mining industry.

The Kellingley Colliery closed almost a year ago to the day that Harworth Group – a developer of low carbon schemes to support the economic regeneration of parts of northern England and the Midlands – announced that it has signed a deal to construct a 5 MW solar farm at the 28 acre site.

Planning consent for Kellingley Solar Farm Limited was secured in July 2015 before the coal mine’s closure, but it is only this week that Harworth Group confirmed it had secured a 31-year lease for the project.

Construction is expected to begin shortly, with the solar farm expected to be brought online by March next year. Once operational, the solar farm will deliver enough clean energy to meet the power needs of 20,000 local households, Harworth Group said. It will also mark the group’s 10th solar installation in the U.K.

“This is an excellent deal for Harworth and low-carbon energy developments form an important part of increasing our recurring income base,” said Harworth’s natural resources senior estates manager Hannah Moxon. “Although the basis for renewables subsidies has now changed, we remain convinced that solar and wind farms are an important part of the U.K. energy mix and we believe the government’s proposed industrial strategy should reintroduce incentives to bring further developments forward.”

The former coal mine used to employ more than 2,000 staff at the height of its peak production as the largest deep pit mine in Europe. The pit closed for good on December 18 2015 after the government opted to switch to imported coal procured at a lower price.

Harworth will now take ownership of the site, adding to its portfolio of 23 low-carbon energy schemes across the U.K., which combined deliver a total of 100 MW of clean energy capacity.