Oxford City Council confirms £3.4 million funding for Ray Valley Solar near Bicester

Ray Valley Solar Farm map

Last month, Bristol-based ethical bank Triodos Bank UK announced new lending to Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub to help construct and operate what will be the UK’s largest community-owned solar park, in Oxfordshire.

Now Oxford City Council has agreed to provide funding of nearly £3.4 million towards the development at Ray Valley Solar, near Bicester.

Ray Valley Solar will be a subsidy-free, community-owned solar park near Arncott, north east of Oxford. The project will have a total installed capacity of 19.2 megawatts (MWp) and aims to generate enough electricity to power over 6,000 homes annually through its ground-mounted panels.

Last week, at its Cabinet meeting, the Council agreed to commit funding over a lifetime of 22.5 years to support the development, which will be the UK’s largest community-owned solar park, generating enough clean energy every year to power the equivalent of 6,000 homes.

The Council and Low Carbon Hub have agreed to a low interest loan that will provide the Low Carbon Hub with up to £3,385,200 towards the development.

The loan terms to Low Carbon Hub mean ultimately more money will go towards community benefit from the project and less towards paying off loan debt.

The investment comes from the £10.9m of Government funding secured by the Council earlier this year as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. The Government funding aims to deliver average annual reductions in CO2e/y equivalent to around 30 per cent of the Council’s existing emission levels.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “The City Council has a decade-long relationship to Low Carbon Hub and we’re thrilled to help fund their 48th renewable energy project. This Council has chosen to invest in Low Carbon Hub so much for so long because we believe in community-owned clean energy. Other councils have set up a municipal energy company, but we will continue to support clean energy because we want to keep energy spend locally, reduce our carbon footprint, and generate millions in community benefit through people-powered energy.”

Barbara Hammond, CEO, Low Carbon Hub, added: “This funding is the final piece of the puzzle in funding our first ever ground mount solar park and we’re really pleased to once more be working with Oxford City Council on a project to help cut our county’s carbon emissions. We desperately need more renewable energy generation if we are to meet the UK’s zero carbon emission targets and we’re so excited to be making strides towards this goal in Oxfordshire.”