Falkirk Council: Green Grangemouth Flexible Solar Project

 

Zetland parkProject name: Falkirk Council: Green Grangemouth Flexible Solar Project
Technology: Solar PV
Location: Grangemouth
CARES funding: Innovation grant £25,000 (50% of funding required)

Background

The Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone Growth Deal is a possible £235m investment package from the UK and Scottish Governments and local governments. The Deal aims to drive inclusive growth in the Falkirk area.

The Deal will develop the chemical, logistics and manufacturing industries in Grangemouth. It also has a sustainable growth strand including Biotechnology, Carbon Capture, and ‘clean industry’. The Deal includes the development of a locally generated and managed solar energy system situated on one of Grangemouth’s many vacant or derelict industrial sites and/or green spaces.

It is hoped that the solar project will return local financial benefits, for reinvestment as decided in collaboration with the community. A community consultation draft report - Grangemouth “Your Place Your Views” – published by Community Links in May 2019, found that Grangemouth residents highly valued the environment.

Project Aims and Objectives

Falkirk Council wants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the district by 2045. The council applied for a CARES Innovation grant to fund a feasibility assessment to explore the potential for building a community solar scheme in the Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone.

The project aims to provide recommendations to inform a Business Case for funding to build a community owned flexible solar project. This business case will be included in a bid for infrastructure funding as part of the Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone Growth Deal.

Outcomes and achievements

The feasibility assessment process began in September 2019 and was completed in March 2020.

A Stage One options appraisal report aimed to scrutinise a long list of potential sites against a list of criteria and produce a short-list take forward to Stage Two. This involved:

  • Geospatial mapping to identify all potential sites (28) and their proximity to direct supply potential and/or grid export connections
  • Constraints assessment (including environmental, regulatory, planning, economic and social constraints)
  • Heuristic-based narrowing down of sites to generate a long list (9 sites)
  • Technical assessment of long list sites (including demand and generation modelling)
  • Presentation of a Site Appraisal Matrix to compare long list sites

The Stage 2 options appraisal report presents in-depth assessments for the sites which were shortlisted in Stage One.

These sites are:

  • Kinneil Kerse recycling centre
  • Falkirk Football Stadium
  • Grangemouth Sports Complex
  • Grangemouth Athletics Stadium
  • Grangemouth Golf clubhouse
  • Grangemouth Library

Building on Stage One, the analysis includes:

  • demand-supply matching via an enhanced project model with scenario analysis of innovation options
  • assessment of grid connection costs
  • comprehensive financial analysis of all project elements, including development, capital and operational expenses and lifetime net present value
  • Revenue stream scenario analysis (export, smart export guarantee, power purchase agreement, flexibility services, peer to peer).

The Stage Two Options Appraisal Report also includes design-ready feasibility assessment and identification of next steps in terms of technical investigations.

The Solar Business Model report provides a review of commercial, legal, regulatory and policy drivers to provide the necessary business and commercial model context to the Green Grangemouth Flexible Solar project. It also reviews the present and future barriers and opportunities for a community-led project. The overview of options covers a commercial 'red-flag' analysis (including legal, regulatory and policy constraints), ownership options and an analysis and operational model.

Lessons learned

A council spokesperson highlighted the importance of not assuming the community has the capacity to deliver a project of this scale. It also noted that it must carefully appraise the options and support the decision-making process.