£8.3 million low-carbon development and solar energy farm coming to County Durham

May 25, 2021 @ 4:52 pm by Chloe Holmes

A transportation depot in County Durham is set to benefit from an innovative £ 8.3 million low carbon retrofit, including a solar farm that will generate green energy for the council’s fleet of electric vehicles.

A team of consultants led by Durham-based architect Howarth Litchfield is delivering the environmentally friendly project on behalf of Durham County Council at a location in Annfield Plain, County Durham.

Morrison Busty’s low-carbon depot will include a large three-megawatt solar farm on an adjacent green field, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles to aid the council’s transition to an electric fleet.

The depot’s natural gas heating will also be replaced by air source heat pumps, and the main office buildings will be renovated with highly efficient cladding, windows and doors to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

The plans also include an innovative high-performance battery storage system that ensures that solar energy can be used wherever possible.

Retrofitting the Morrison Busty will save an estimated 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually and reduce overall council emissions by up to four percent.

This low-carbon project is the latest development in the council’s plan to cut CO2 emissions from its operations by 80 percent by 2030, with the hope of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2050.

To win the tender, Howarth Litchfield assembled a team of local consultants and selected trusted professional companies from the company’s supply chain to minimize his team’s carbon footprint.

Howarth Litchfield acts as lead consultant as well as architect and main designer, while the consulting engineers TGA provide general mechanical and electrical support for the solar park. Multidisciplinary engineering company Cundall offers civil engineering and geotechnical consulting.

The council’s construction advisory service and the low carbon economy teams are also working closely to implement this project.

The Council received £ 5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to cover the cost of the retrofit and will provide a further £ 3.3m from its own Invest to Save fund.

Oliver Sherratt, Environmental Director for Durham County Council, said, “The solar farm will reduce carbon emissions from the site’s buildings by replacing natural gas heating with air heat pumps, while innovative battery storage ensures that as much solar energy is generated on site as possible.

“By improving energy efficiency and switching to more sustainable energy sources, we are not only reducing CO2 emissions in our own operations, but also emissions for the entire district, in line with our efforts to combat climate change.”

The project is expected to be completed in April 2023.

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