With its ninth solar power scheme now on line, the Coal Authority has successfully completed the first tranche of its innovative solar programme, which will offset annual expenditure on electricity by £150,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 800 tonnes per annum.
Our first solar array was commissioned in 2016 and the latest, at our Saltburn mine water treatment scheme in the north east, is projected to save £11,400 in energy costs each year.
We manage the effects of historical coal mining to protect the public and environment, with 75 schemes treating around 122 billion litres of mine water every year, preventing 4,500 tonnes of iron solids from entering local water courses and polluting drinking water.
Out of these 75 schemes, 45 require an element of pumping and the consequence of this is an annual electricity cost in excess of £3 million.
Small to medium scale ground-mounted solar panel schemes were considered as one of the most appropriate ways to offset the demand for electricity as well as minimise climate change impact.
The scheme at Saltburn went live on 23 July 2019 and its 101kw array is on target to offset a total of £6,000 of electricity costs during the current financial year, against an expected spend of £24,000.
Colin Lambert, Innovation Manager for the Coal Authority, said:
It’s been 3 years since our first solar installation and in that time we have saved money and improved our carbon footprint through the schemes that met the financial and installation requirements at that time.
We continue to investigate the viability of further schemes in order to meet our aim to significantly reduce carbon emissions and operational costs of treatment schemes through innovation, research and development.
Dr Hugh Potter, Water and Abandoned Metal Mines programme manager at the Environment Agency, said: “It’s great to be able to use renewable energy to help clean up rivers that were significantly polluted by abandoned metal mines.
“The treatment scheme at Saltburn, built as part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs funded WAMM programme, also protects a popular surfing beach. The Environment Agency is eager to see the Coal Authority continuing to reduce their carbon footprint while still protecting the environment.”