More than 90 per cent of Swindon’s unrecyclable household waste is turned into fuel for energy at the Waterside Park plant.

And on a sunny day that process, which uses a lot of energy is entirely powered by the sun - the plant run by Public Power Solutions - a wholly owned company of Swindon Borough Council - is hooked up to the solar farm at the old landfill site at Barnfield, next door to Waterside.

In future it could be possible to run the waste recovery plant from the power of the sun at night, or on a cloudy, rainy day.

The company has applied to install a storage battery at the plant.

One of the project managers Chris Tucker said: “We have 2.5 megawatts from the solar panels at Barnfield coming into the plant behind the meter - that means directly - to us and when it is putting out its maximum power that’s more than we need. We are able to send some back to the grid.

“But at other times, when the photovoltaic generation isn’t at it’s peak, then we have to take energy from the grid in the normal fashion. And it costs us quite a lot of money - electricity charges are rising faster than inflation, and only ever going to go up. This battery will allow us to store the excess energy produced by the array at full power, and then use it when we need it. The evening is one of the busy times on the grid, when everybody is getting home, and putting on the kettle, so that might be a good time for us to use the stored energy.”

Chris said that would allow the company to make a significant saving on its energy bill but was unable to specify how much: “We are looking at the feasibility of doing this at the moment - and the planning application is part of that. If we get permission then we’ll be going into more of the details.”

As well as saving money for the company, and ultimately Swindon Borough Council, Chris said it was important for PPS to be as green as possible in its processing of waste - essentially running it through huge dryers and then mincing it up to be bailed into dry fuel used by industry, most frequently cement manufacturers.

He said: “ We are at the forefront of innovation - the solid recovered fuel plant is an innovative way of dealing with waste that would otherwise be landfilled. Using renewable and sustainable energy is very important to us, and it’s very important to the borough council.

Swindon is already set to be the home of the largest battery storage facility in the UK at Mannington. PPS is finalising the development which should be completed in the next 12 months.