The city council’s climate change committee will meet this week to progress a plan to acquire a renewable energy asset in the South of England.
Last year, Manchester City Council revealed it was considering spending up to £30m on a solar farm in a bid to meet its carbon reduction ambitions, namely cutting emissions by 7,000 tonnes a year by 2025.
The authority is aiming to be zero carbon by 2038.
Estimates for how much a 250-acre solar farm would cost have increased since last year and the council now plans to borrow up to £39m subject to executive approval, according to a report to the authority’s climate change scrutiny committee.
Borrowing for the acquisition would be financed over the life of the asset from the council’s reduced expenditure with other energy providers, and the generation of surplus power that could then be sold.
At present, the council is in talks over two sites that would meet its 45-60 megawatt requirement, having found no suitable locations in Manchester borough.
Site one – a 45.3 MW scheme due to go live in June 2023 that would provide 95% of the council’s targeted reduction in CO2 by 2038.
Site two – two schemes totalling 58 MW. The 21 MW scheme connects in March 2022 and the 37MW scheme connects in June 2022. These sites would meet the council’s total carbon reduction target.
Other options could be considered as talks with developers continue, Manchester City Council said.
The lifespan of the assets is likely to be in the range of 25-35 years, according to the authority.
As well as buying a solar farm, another option available to the council is entering into a power purchase agreement, whereby a party buys renewable energy from a renewable energy provider.
However, the solar farm acquisition is the council’s first choice.
At Thursday’s meeting, the climate change committee is asked to progress the plans and allow council bosses to enter into negotiations for the purchase.
Cllr Tracey Rawlins, executive member for environment, said: “Owning our own solar farm would not only reduce our carbon emissions by thousands of tonnes a year, it also has the potential to reduce our energy costs over time and protect us from price rises in a volatile market.
“If the council’s executive agrees, the next step will be for us to enter into detailed negotiations for the potential purchase of a solar farm.”