A SOLAR farm set to be built in rural Dorset will help power London's financial centre in a "pioneering" £40m renewable energy deal.

The City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, has signed the power purchase agreement with Voltalia to buy all of the electricity produced by a new 95,000-panel solar farm in Dorset for the next 15 years.

The deal, the first of its kind in the UK to be signed directly between a renewables producer and governing authority, will enable Voltalia to leverage cash to build the facility, while saving the City Corporation around £3m in energy costs.

Dorset Council gave the go ahead for the solar farm near the village of Spetisbury and Blandford Forum in February, and it will have a total capacity of 49.9 megawatts.

The solar farm, which will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes, will provide more than half of the City Corporation’s electricity, powering buildings including its historic Guildhall headquarters, three wholesale markets and the Barbican arts centre.

The new deal forms part of the organisation’s wider commitment to curb climate change, namely to make the Square Mile net zero for carbon emissions by 2040 – 10 years earlier than Government goals.

City of London hopes that the green energy supply deal will form a template for other local councils across the country to cut their carbon emissions and save money on their energy bills by investing in renewable energy without the risk.

Jamie Ingham Clark, chair of the City of London Corporation’s corporate Asset Sub-Committee, said: “This is a pioneering scheme which we hope will lead the way for local authorities across the UK. It means they can play their part in reducing emissions without the risks of owning their own energy firms or infrastructure and without the need for Government funding.

“Like many organisations, we face an uncertain economic landscape in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19. However, we can’t allow that to prevent us tackling climate change, which is now recognised as a global issue which requires immediate action and investment.

“The deal, which supports our ambitious Climate Action Strategy, will help cut emissions and give us a cheaper, more secure electricity supply protected from the price volatility of energy markets.”

The Dorset site will generate clean, renewable energy and export energy to the grid for a minimum of 35 years.

A number of jobs will be created in the construction phase, with local suppliers used as much as possible.

Voltalia has had a presence in the UK since 2012, developing, constructing and operating 22 solar farms with a total capacity of 193 megawatts – with more in the pipeline.

The French energy firm said they were “very proud” to support the City of London Corporation in its 2040 net carbon zero target by providing clean electricity to the historic Square Mile and the financial and commercial heart of the UK.

Voltalia CEO Sebastien Clerc said: “This new success confirms our leadership in corporate PPA solutions and highlights our capacity to respond to organisations’ challenges when it comes to energy transition. Our model, know-how and strong track record across the value chain of renewable infrastructure enable us to offer competitive and de-risked energy.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our positions in the UK to further enhance our ability to source and secure Power Purchase Agreements within the country and to boost our UK capability in Asset Management to ensure projects perform in line with expectations.”