Plastics firm powered by solar farm in countryside near Garstang can now sell its excess electricity to offset soaring bills

A plastics recycling plant in the heart of the Lancashire countryside has been given permission to send surplus electricity from its adjacent solar energy farm to the National Grid.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 12:58 pm

Preston Plastics, which built the 5,000-panel installation in 2020 to help power its factory in Out Rawcliffe, applied to Wyre Council to allow it to divert excess supply for use elsewhere rather than waste it.

And, with energy bills now soaring, officers have agreed to remove a condition from its original planning permission which blocked it from selling it on.

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A solar farm similar to the one powering Preston Plastics' recyling plant

The company installed the solar farm next to its recycling plant in Lancaster Road to help bring down its £600,000 a year electricity bills.

Excess power generated by the panels has remained unused, despite the increasing cost of energy.

Now, in a statement to the planning committee, Preston Plastics said: "Energy bills are currently exceptionally high and have increased substantially since early 2020 when the planning submission was made.

"It is still the intention to consume as large a proportion of the solar energy output as feasible to reduce the cost of imported energy and to increase resilience in the context of the power cuts that the site is susceptible to.

Preston Plastics' plant at Out Rawcliffe.

"However, the premises are already connected to the local electricity distribution system and there will be regular periods when generation exceeds consumption, thus necessitating export to the distribution network.

"A not-insubstantial amount of energy will be exported during these periods, but this amount is not substantial enough to warrant utilisation of battery storage, which is a costly and a very marginal option for this scheme."

Preston Plastics Ltd, which has a 35-strong workforce, was first established back in 1987. Over the last 30 years the business says it has "experienced continuing success, establishing itself as a real industry leader, specialising in the recycling of clean non-hazardous plastic products from manufacturers.

"Products processed onsite would otherwise go to landfill. The success has considerable benefits for the rural community, providing a significant range of employment opportunities.

"From a sustainability standpoint, the investment in solar infrastructure is sought to directly target the considerable electricity consumption that is created as a result of the recycling process.

"Financially, the investment seeks to offset some of the considerable costs that are incurred each annum which currently stand at approximately £600,000."