Solar helping UK clean up legacy of coal industry


With solar fast hastening the demise of coal-fired electricity around the globe, PV is also helping to clean up the after-effects of the fossil fuel, in the U.K. at least.

Government body The Coal Authority yesterday announced the activation of its ninth solar array – at the Saltburn minewater treatment scheme near Middlesbrough in the northeast of England – has completed the first phase of a solar program to help reduce electricity costs.

The authority, which is financed by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is responsible for cleaning up the legacy of the U.K. coal industry and says it operates around 75 projects to keep iron solids from mines entering waterways.

That obligation involves an annual £3 million ($3.7 million) electricity bill for pumping operations at 45 of the minewater schemes it operates and the authority turned to solar to reduce the expense.

First stage complete

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The authority announced yesterday on the U.K. government website that, after installing its first solar array in 2016, the first phase of its solar program had been completed with the installation of a 101 kW system at Saltburn on July 23.

No explanation was given for the ten-week delay in announcing the news nor was any detail offered on future phases of the solar strategy. pv magazine carried a press release issued in July 2017 by HBS New Energies announcing it had been named one of three principal contractors for installing PV systems under a framework agreement for The Coal Authority.

The authority said it expects to shave £150,000 per year of its electricity bill and prevent 800 tons of carbon emissions annually with the nine installations. For example, the £24,000 Saltburn array is on track to deliver £6,000 savings in this fiscal year and annual savings of £11,400 thereafter.

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