UK water utility Northumbrian Water has announced a partnership with solar developer LightsourceBP that will see the two working together to build and operate 10 new solar farms that will generate 10 GWh of clean electricity each year.
Northumbrian Water operates in the northeast and southeast of England, servicing just under 4.4 million people – supplying water to nearly 800,000 properties in the counties of Essex and Suffolk, and water and sewerage services to 1.3 million properties in the country’s north.
The company is also ranked highest according to British Water’s ‘Water Company Performance’ for four years in a row.
Earlier in April, Northumbrian Water announced that it had signed a deal with Danish energy supplier Ørsted to power all 1,858 of its sites with green electricity for the next four years.
The deal will see Ørsted provide renewable electricity from its nine UK offshore wind farms, backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs), helping Northumbrian Water to avoid 125,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
This adds to its existing achievements of being the only water company in the UK to use 100% of its sewage sludge in Advanced Anaerobic Digestion technology to create clean electricity, a 931-panel solar array on the roof of its sewage treatment plant in Bran Sands, and England’s largest hydro plant at Kielder Water.
“At Northumbrian Water, we want to work with forward thinking, responsible supply partners whose values match our own,” said Philip Carvel, Northumbrian Water’s category manager, at the time.
“Ørsted is a market leader in green energy solutions and has a remarkable vision for a more sustainable world.
“Combining this with a highly competitive commercial offer means that we can keep costs down as well as reduce our environmental impact – a great result for our customers.”
To bookend their Ørsted deal, Northumbrian Water followed it up at the end of the month by announcing that it had signed an agreement with LightsourceBP, a global solar PV company that focuses on funding, development, acquisition, and management.
The new deal will see LightsourceBP develop and build 10 ground-mount solar PV systems for Northumbrian Water, enough to generate 10 GWh of clean electricity and help the water company take another step closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality.
“We have a genuine desire to work with suppliers who share our passion to deliver excellence across our industry while protecting our planet by reducing our carbon footprint,” said Graham Southall, Northumbrian Water’s Commercial Director. “This project will deliver a great result for our customers, the environment and our business.”
Northumbrian Water has gone to the right solar developer, considering that LightsourceBP is the largest utility-scale solar developer, as well as the largest operations & maintenance provider in Europe, having invested over $3 billion across 2 GW worth of global solar projects.
“Choosing to procure solar electricity in this way will provide Northumbrian Water with a long-term hedging strategy against rising costs in today′s volatile energy market,” said LightsourceBP’s Chief Executive, Nick Boyle.
“Solar is a locally generated, cost-competitive, reliable and clean alternative that will be a good addition to Northumbrian Water′s energy mix. We are looking forward to working with the team to deliver these 10 sites in the next year.”
Despite a lack of government support for such deals of late, developers are beginning to recover something of their groove given the dramatic declines to technology costs, making solar PV installations especially a particularly attractive option for utilities and businesses across the UK, and in similar markets around the world.
Coupled with the genuine desire to participate in the global transition to a low-carbon economy, deals like the one made between Northumbrian Water and LightsourceBP provide low-cost electricity generation at a stable long-term price, avoiding the natural market variation for those reliant upon the grid.
Beyond simply being a marketing-friendly green decision, renewable energy agreements of this sort are proving to be a vitally important economic decision for companies everywhere.