Martlesham Heath: Huge solar farm to power BT’s Adastral Park research campus over next 20 years

View of BT’s new solar farm site and Adastral Park Research Centre

View of BTs new solar farm site and Adastral Park Research Centre - Credit: Archant

A huge solar farm will help power BT’s Adastral Park research campus in Martlesham Heath over the next 20 years, the telecoms giant has announced.

Work to build the 16-hectare solar farm in nearby Brightwell is under way after UK Sustainable Energy Ltd (UK-SE) obtained planning permission.

BT has agreed a £26million deal with UK-SE to take 100% of the green energy generated by the solar farm – up to 8MW of power – to its main research and development site at Martlesham Heath.

The solar farm will be equivalent to the size of around 40 football pitches, and will contain more than 32,500 solar panels.

Dr Tim Whitley, head of research at BT and managing director of Adastral Park, said the solar farm will supply “up to 90% of site demand on sunny summer days”.

He said: “As a leading technology centre for the UK, we have a responsibility to find innovative ways of reducing our environmental impact.

“This contract represents another great step in reinforcing our sustainable energy plans for the park and BT.”

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A BT spokesman described the news as a “vote of confidence” in the UK renewable energy sector, adding a smaller solar array at Adastral Park was recently installed to generate some of its own green electricity.

More than 4,000 people are employed at Adastral Park, and more than 60 companies are based at the site.

The solar farm will also include a substation building, inverter kiosks, security fencing and cameras.

Ian Kay, chairman of Waldringfield Parish Council, said no objections were raised when the planning application was first lodged. It was approved by a majority in September last year.

Mr Kay said: “We are supportive of green energy initiatives. That is our default position.”

A UK-SE spokesman confirmed construction work has already started on the solar farm.

Don Lord, chief executive of UK-SE, said: “This is the largest dedicated private wire solar project anywhere in the United Kingdom and it is testament to BT’s willingness to engage and work with smaller business.

“From UK-SE’s perspective, this project has given us the credibility to roll out zero cost solar farms to many other UK corporates which is undoubtedly a positive for the UK with vast environmental benefits.”