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The Business Magazine July 2024
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£26 million funding for new Herefordshire solar farm

The Business Magazine article image for: £26 million funding for new Herefordshire solar farm
Conrad Energy
15 March 2024
Conrad Energy

Virgin Money is providing £26 million of long-term funding for the development, construction and operation of a major new 45MW solar park in Herefordshire. 

Larport Solar Farm has been developed by Abingdon-based independent energy provider, Conrad Energy, and the 77,000-panel array is on track for completion by Exeter-based engineering and construction contractors, Ethical Power, in the second quarter of the year. It has been designed and developed in consultation with Herefordshire County Council and will include 40 hectares of native wildflower grassland to mitigate the impact to the local community and environment.

The energy generated by the Larport Solar Farm, equivalent to that needed to power an estimated 10,400 homes, has been pre-sold under a 15-year contract to a major banking institution to help decarbonise their UK operations. 

This is the largest solar farm in Virgin Money’s portfolio of environment-focused lending, and the third transaction the bank has funded with Conrad Energy. Larport Solar Farm will displace an estimated 9,400 tonnes of carbon each year, and this deal underlines Virgin Money’s commitment to grow its renewable energy lending book from its current level of c£300m to £500m by 2025, and to reduce financed emissions by 50% by 2030. 

Established in 2017, Conrad Energy has 63 operational sites in the UK generating in excess of approximately 800MW per year, with a further 16 under construction and a development pipeline of 2.4GW.

Conrad Energy CEO, Steven Hardman, said: “We have built a very successful relationship with Virgin Money on the basis of the total commitment we share to carbon net zero. Larport Solar Farm will be our flagship solar project, and we are delighted to have secured a long-term customer with the same credibility and integrity as Virgin Money in their support for this vital transition to renewable energy.” 

Virgin Money Senior Director, Renewable Energy, Adam Heslop, says the Larport Solar Farm and the stakeholders delivering it make this an ideal project for the bank’s support.

“Conrad Energy has an excellent track record of developing, constructing and operating energy generation in the UK and we’re pleased to be supporting them with this Herefordshire project that will have a positive impact on society and the environment. Larport Solar Farm aligns closely with Virgin Money’s ESG priorities, supporting the UK’s transition to a low carbon future and towards net zero, adding a substantial new supply of renewable energy to the grid.”


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Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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