MORE than £45 million has been invested in commercial-scale renewable energy projects across Hampshire, new figures reveal.

Farmers, businesses, communities and public sector organisations in the county have taken advantage of renewable energy projects, with 74 independent projects now operating in Hampshire.

Independent energy company SmartestEnergy’s latest Energy Entrepreneurs Report found that an estimated £7.6 million has been invested in 18 new projects since last year’s report – an increase of 32.1 per cent.

A solar power installation at the New Forest Fruit Company in Brockenhurst was just one of the projects that opened in Hampshire in 2013.

Schemes such as wind turbines and rooftop solar installations are now generating enough electricity to power more than 134,000 households, with the county’s total independent generation capacity standing at 175 megawatts (MW).

Projects operating in Hampshire can potentially generate an estimated £28.6 million worth of electricity per year, according to the firm, while commercial-scale projects typically require an investment of at least £150,000.

Other commercial-scale projects in Hampshire include a solar installation at the Oasis Academy Mayfield in Southampton, an anaerobic digestion plant at fruit and vegetable grower Barfoots of Botley and solar projects at the Covers Timber Merchants and Builders Merchants sites in Portsmouth, Gosport and Aldershot.

Iain Robertson, SmartestEnergy’s head of generation, said: “There has been huge growth in independent renewable generation projects in recent years driven by rising energy prices and the introduction of financial subsidy schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff.

“With energy bills forecast to continue to rise in the years ahead, investing in their own renewable energy can help businesses, farms, communities and organisations save significant sums of money and develop new income streams.

“The combined strength of a large number of these projects will also play an increasingly important role in helping the country meet its energy needs and climate change targets in the years ahead.”