Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, has welcomed the announcement that local company Riding Sunbeams has been awarded £2.5 million from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) to build the world's first megawatt scale renewable solar energy plant directly powering the railways in East Sussex.
Earlier this year, the Government announced the £900 million Getting Building Fund, created to invest in local projects to drive economic growth. Projects selected as part of this funding will be able to help get the local economy back on its feet after the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
One of the five projects in East Sussex that were awarded this funding is Riding Sunbeams Solar Railway. It is the world’s first megawatt scale community renewable energy farm, which will power the railway network with electricity from solar panels. The project will be delivered through a collaboration between technology start-up company Riding Sunbeams and Network Rail, and it will develop the route to market for subsidy free renewable energy generators to directly supply the UK’s largest energy user.
The 3.75 MW Cuckmere Community Solar Farm that will be financed by the grant is located on the border between Wealden and Lewes constituency, near Berwick. The Eastbourne-London mainline railway will be powered by the energy it generates. With the funds now secured, the solar farm is expected to be supplying power to the local railway network by March 2022.
Nus Ghani said: “The Wealden countryside is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and I want to make sure that we pass on a healthy and clean environment to our children.
"Riding Sunbeams Solar Railways is a truly innovative project which will be revolutionary in carbon saving and bring fantastic benefits to the energy capacity of Wealden and East Sussex.
"It is a key contributor to the Government’s climate plan and underpins our commitment to cleaner energy and greener economy. I am pleased that Riding Sunbeams has been selected to receive funding as part of the Getting Building Fund and I will follow the progress of this project closely.”
Speaking on the announcement, Cllr Roy Galley, Wealden District Council's cabinet member for Economic Development. said: “We are really excited that the solar farm at Berwick will be used to create clean power which hopefully will play a major role in creating a carbon-neutral tomorrow,”
“Many years ago Wealden was an industrial leader when it came to casting iron. Now as the country embarks on a green industrial revolution, local people will have a new role to play, with the prospect of new jobs and the community being able to benefit from this innovation.”