As part of a continuing push to find alternative sources of energy, BT has signed a £26m deal with solar energy supplier UK Sustainable Energy to build a massive solar farm to help power the telecoms giant's Adastral Park research campus for the next 20 years.
The solar farm near Ipswich in Suffolk will cover 16 hectares (40 acres) — which, according to BT, is "equivalent to around 40 football pitches" and contains more than 32,500 solar panels. When fully operational, and on a sunny day, it is expected to produce eight megawatts of power.
BT's Adastral Park is the company's main research and development site and this agreement to build the solar farm there is believed to be the UK's biggest, dedicated private solar energy scheme.
This is one of a number of measures that BT says it is taking to try to "minimise the impact of its activities on the environment". As it points out, the site at Martelsham (which was built on the site of a one-time RAF station) has more recently become the focus of a cluster of more than 60 high-tech companies, with more than 4,000 people located on the site.
BT itself is a major consumer of electricity in the UK, using, by its own estimate, around two terawatt hours in 2013-14, but it says that it has reduced the energy needed to run its business, for five consecutive years. BT said the solar farm will supply up to 90 per cent of site demand on sunny summer days.
BT recently installed a smaller solar array at Adastral Park to generate some of its own green electricity, as well as measures to reduce the impact of food waste and road transport for workers at the site. Among the innovative ideas is a "wormery" that the company is installing to recycle food waste generated by the on-site restaurant.