Santander UK has provided £25m funding to South Farm Solar.

The 49.9MW ground-mounted solar farm near Spetisbury, Dorset, is a subsidiary of global energy producer and service provider Voltalia. Santander's support will aid construction and operation of the farm that hopes to delivery more than half of City of London Corporation's electricity, including landmarks such as Tower Bridge, Hampstead Heath, the Barbican Centre and Guildhall headquarters.

On site grid connection has been secured with Southern Electric Power Distribution with an export capacity of 40MW, connecting to an existing tower with 132kV overhead line. The South Farm site is now complete having achieved grid connection certification in December 2022, and it began providing the City Corporation with electricity in January.

Simon Holt, UK country manager at Voltalia said: “Through our work with Santander UK in funding the South Farm project we have been able to fully realise a brand new, substantial green energy project at South Farm, Dorset. We expect an increasing number of companies and organisations in the UK to be switching to cleaner, sustainable, renewable energy supplies and we will continue to deliver a net-zero power purchase solution as our portfolio grows.

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"The UK has the capacity, enthusiasm and the sunshine to deliver many more of these projects in the coming decades and we hope that projects like South Farm add to the bankability and confidence in UK renewables.”

South Farm represents Santander's further support of renewable energy generation assets that do not rely on government subsidies. The bank's funding package also provides South Farm Solar with Consumer Price Index (CPI) hedging, giving it "more certainty over the amount of revenue the solar farm will generate over the next 15 years".

Howard Whitehead, senior relationship director at Santander UK said: “We are delighted to support South Farm with this funding, which builds on the long-standing relationship between Santander and Voltalia internationally. Santander UK is proud to support organisations such as Voltalia that are generating renewable energy in the UK, especially when it puts organisations like the City Corporation a huge step closer to achieving their goal of becoming carbon neutral in future.

"This transaction demonstrates our continued support for standalone Government subsidy-free renewable energy generation assets and is the first in which we have provided CPI hedging to a renewable energy client.”

City Corporation has a 15-year power purchase agreement with the Dorset site, which is part of its Climate Action Strategy, committing to reach net zero in its operations by 2023, and in its investments and supply chain by 2040.

Keith Bottomley, deputy policy chairman at the City of London Corporation said: “This scheme is a pioneering blueprint by the City Corporation for local authorities across the UK, cutting carbon emissions and giving cheaper, more secure energy, protected from the price volatility of energy markets. The deal will increase our green energy supply, has no reliance on taxpayer funding, and helps us transition quickly away from fossil fuels.”

Voltalia, which has its headquarters in France and UK office in Woodley, Reading, has undertaken 23 new renewable energy facility projects with a combined capacity of 193MW in the UK. South Farm is its largest solar energy facility to date and is located near its other solar photovoltaics farms at Clifton Farm, near Yeovil, and Higher Stockbridge.

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