The Water Lane Solar Park at Marsh Barton features 3,700 solar panels, which will create more than 1MW of clean, renewable energy, and is expected to be charging the council’s electric fleet of vehicles for the first time by the end of next month.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the facility, built on an inactive landfill site, includes a substantial battery storage capacity to provide flexibility between peak generation and peak usage.

It will feed the power generated directly into the council’s nearby Materials Reclamation Facility, and will charge the council’s entire fleet of electric vehicles, including its three newly-operational electric refuse vehicles.

Cllr Duncan Wood, lead councillor for Climate Change, said: ‘This is an amazing site – it’s not just generating green energy but using new storage technology to meet the needs of our fleet and powering the recycling processes at the Material Reclamation Facility. We will be able guarantee that our electric vehicles going around Exeter are running on green electricity.’

The recent replacement by the council of three of the 15 diesel refuse vehicles with fully electric ones is saving 10,500 litres of diesel per year for each vehicle – a total of 31,500 litres per annum. That’s more than a quarter of a million litres of diesel over their eight-year lifespan.

The aim is to replace all diesel refuse vehicles with electric ones within the next six years, saving 157,500 litres of diesel per year. The carbon saved on each electric refuse vehicle is approximately 27,000kg per year.