Army's first solar farm a 'key milestone in its go-green agenda'

The British Army has opened its first solar farm as part of a project designed to reduce greenhouse emissions and save £152m over 10 years.

The approximately four-acre farm at the Defence School of Transport in Leconfield, East Yorkshire, is set to annually cut the school's electricity bills by one-third and save 700 tonnes of carbon.

Made up of more than 4,000 solar panels, it is the first of four pilot solar farms to officially open as part of the Army's £200m project into producing renewable energy.

Project Prometheus will see 80 solar farms installed across Army sites over the next 10 years.

The Army's Director of Basing and Infrastructure, Major General David Southall, said the opening of the first solar farm "marks a key milestone in the Army's go-green agenda".

The investment comes as there are continued urgent warnings over the ongoing climate crisis and criticisms of governments across the world for the handling of the situation.

Watch: How could the military adapt to climate change?

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) top climate change advisor said lives could be saved in any future war by the military embracing renewable energy and becoming more self-sufficient.

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, who published a report on defence and climate change in March, said new issues brought forward by the crisis means the Armed Forces "need to adapt".

He warned military personnel are more likely to find themselves deployed more frequently around the world to more places to deal with situations caused by climate change.

He continued if the military is working in these conditions, personnel will directly face new and often harder challenges in day-to-day operations.

As it stands, defence currently accounts for half of all of the UK Government's carbon emissions but the Government has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The solar farm at Defence School of Transport
The solar farm at Defence School of Transport is roughly the size of eight football pitches.

Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said the opening of the Army's first solar farm "reaffirms" the Government's commitment to becoming net-zero by 2050 and "developing a more sustainable service".

The majority of the electricity generated on the farm, which is the size of almost eight football pitches, will provide support to personnel based there, including potentially powering accommodation, offices, hangars, classrooms and more.

Building work on the three other pilot sites – at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks in Gloucestershire, Rock Barracks in Suffolk and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, Sussex – is under way.

Across all four sites, it is estimated £1m in bills and 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions will be saved each year.

Money saved will be reinvested into essential Army infrastructure, the MOD said.

The Army already has other green initiatives, such as developing hybrid vehicles and plans to plant up to two million trees.

The Royal Navy is also trying to be more eco-friendly and last year commissioned its 'greenest' ship into the fleet – HMS Tamar has catalytic converters that can reduce the vessel's nitrogen-based emissions by up to 90%.

It's also understood the Royal Air Force's Red Arrows are considering using more environmentally-friendly smoke trails for their displays.

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