A MULTI-million pound energy farm has officially been switched on.

Th new 8,000 solar panel facility is now powering the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority’s (GMWDA) Over Hulton waste recycling centre — with the surplus electricity being fed back into the national grid.

Theresa Griffin, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the North West England and Councillor Catherine Piddington, Chair of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA), officially opened the Salford Road Resource Recovery Facility and Solar Farm this week.

Guests were invited to tour the newly-built solar farm.

The £2 million solar farm was funded by GMWDA and designed and built by contractors Styles and Wood Energy.

At its full capacity the farm is set to produce around two million kWh of electricity every year, which is enough to power approximately 600 homes.

It is made up of over 8,000 individual solar panels across 6.8 acres —296,208 square feet, the biggest in the borough.

Ms Griffin said: “I’m extremely delighted to have officially opened this wonderful facility.

"Adding a solar array makes the site even more environmentally friendly, and will help GMWDA to significantly reduce its energy consumption and operate more sustainably. Across Europe we all need to be working more on the circular economy, reducing waste and increasing the use of innovative technologies — this site is a great example of all of these things.”

The Salford Road Resource Recovery Facility currently processes over 9,900 tonnes of waste and recycling every year.

The electricity produced by the solar panels is being used to power the IVC that recycles food and garden waste into compost.

Any surplus energy is fed back into the National Grid. Using the solar power will reduce CO2 emissions for GMWDA by up to 1,100 tonnes every year.

The Salford Road site also includes a Household Waste Recycling Centre and a Transfer Loading Station (TLS). The TLS helps to minimise vehicle traffic by preparing a variety of recycling materials into large loads before transferring to other facilities for processing.

Cllr Catherine Piddington, Chair of GMWDA, said: “Salford Road is an incredibly productive site and assists in helping GMWDA achieve its targets of 50 per cent recycling and 85 per cent landfill diversion rate by 2020.

"We are already diverting 77 per cent of Greater Manchester’s waste away from landfill.

"The addition of the solar array will make the facility even more efficient. It also forms part of the wider Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy (GMCCS) and will help to contribute to the 48% carbon reduction target.”

The solar farm is designed to capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic panels (PV). The PV panels do not need direct sunlight to work, meaning the site can generate electricity on a cloudy day. The panels are laid out to maximise the generating efficiency of the system.

Liaison groups were held with local residents who were all said to be "really pleased with the solar facility" with no objections being received.