Clinton Devon Estates seeks to promote the use of renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint, wherever possible. We operate a number of initiatives to achieve this and improve our energy efficiency.
Woodfuel derived from our forestry plantations heats the main Estate Office, with a number of domestic houses powered through small district heating schemes.
Solar parks have a role to play in supplying Devon’s future clean energy needs and we have invested in a six-megawatt solar farm adjacent to Liverton Business Park in Exmouth. This 10-hectare site generates sufficient energy to power over 1,000 homes.
Solar parks can also provide wildlife-rich environments where farmland birds such as skylarks can thrive undisturbed. We are committed to understanding how the benefits to wildlife can be maximised in our solar parks. We do this by monitoring wildlife at these sites and operating a policy to pursue opportunities on a small scale and only on land of low agricultural value, where aesthetic landscape considerations allow.
When the Feed In Tarriff for solar PV projects was announced in the Climate Change Act 2008, there was a rush of interest, particularly among renewable energy companies contacting landowners for suitable land to lease.
Clinton Devon Estates was keen to understand how solar PV would help them take a step towards greater energy autonomy and appointed Aardvark Environment Matters Ltd to guide us through the early proposals, planning, installation and connection to the grid of a small solar PV operation.
In December 2011, Clinton Devon Estates new solar PV (photovoltaic) array began feeding into the National Grid. It has been built on one of the Estate farms in East Devon and has the capacity to produce enough electricity to power around 11 households. It is the Estates’ first experience of solar PV and has provided us with valuable knowledge in our ongoing quest to find alternative forms of energy to meet our future requirements.
For the past five years, Clinton Devon Estates has been researching a variety of sustainable energy projects, including biomass, wind energy, anaerobic digestion and solar PV. As landowners and land managers, we have a responsibility to do our part in finding sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels in the right place and at the right time to help the UK to secure 12% of its heat demand from renewable sources by 2020.
Our decision to proceed with an application for a solar park on the edge of Exmouth follows rigorous research and development involving surveys and feasibility studies at different locations and a two year trial of a small scale solar PV system on a brown field site in East Devon.
Our proposed scheme on the edge of Liverton Business Park has the potential to provide a peak output of 4MW – enough energy to power 1,031 homes a year. The Exmouth site not only offers the opportunity for businesses at Liverton to benefit from lower energy costs, it is also close to a National Grid connection point and is on south-facing land to maximise energy generation. The site is largely hidden from view, screened by existing hedgerows and woodlands, and is outside the East Devon AONB.