Leading renewable energy consultancy and service provider Natural Power has provided technical support to Network Rail throughout the supplier identification and negotiation process which has ultimately led its corporate power purchase agreement for 49.9 MW of solar power from EDF Renewables UK.
The contract will cover around 15% of Network Rail’s annual consumption of non-traction energy being used in offices, depots and railway stations across the country – provided by EDF Renewables UK’s Bloy’s Grove solar farm in Norfolk, which received planning consent in June this year. This builds on the existing traction supply partnership between Network Rail and the wider EDF Group in the UK.
This agreement is in line with Network Rail’s commitment to sourcing 100% of non-traction energy from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its environmental sustainability strategy.
Jo Lewington, Network Rail’s chief environment and sustainability officer, said: “Rail is already in a strong position in terms of its green credentials, but it’s crucial that we do everything we can as a business to improve air quality, minimise our use of fossil fuels and transition to an industry powered by green, renewable, low-carbon energy.
“Our vision is to serve the nation with the cleanest, greenest form of public transport, and this agreement marks another important step towards achieving our aims.”
Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “Our railway has long been the backbone of travel across the UK and, as one of the greenest forms of transport, it is set to play a central role in slashing emissions and helping us achieve our world-leading decarbonisation goals.
“This first of its kind agreement is a huge moment not just for Network Rail but the rail industry as a whole, setting in motion a journey which will see Britain’s favourite transport become even greener, cleaner and more sustainable.”
EDF Renewables UK will now work closely with the local community and the council to plan the next steps towards construction and operation of the solar farm. The company will build, own and operate the solar farm for the lifetime of the project and is offering a £20,000 per year community benefit fund which starts when the site is operational.
There will also be significant biodiversity improvements on site, including a community orchard and the team will liaise with local residents on these matters.
Neil Marshall, advisory lead at Natural Power, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Network Rail on its route to decarbonisation. EDF Renewables UK has demonstrated its ability to provide diverse renewable energy solutions for customers that are both competitive and affordable, so it’s a really positive move that underpins the importance of all renewable technologies in decarbonising the UK electricity system to reach the country’s net zero targets by 2050.”