Belectric UK and First Solar, Inc. have connected the United Kingdom’s largest solar farm to the grid.
The 46 megawatts (MWDC) Landmead Solar Farm, in East Hanney near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, will supply around 45 million kWh (kilowatt hours) of clean energy per year — enough to power 14,000 average homes or drive an electric vehicle 5,000 times around the globe, each year, for the next 25 years.
The plant will displace an estimated 20 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The Landmead Solar Farm is the latest in a series of joint ventures between Belectric, which designed and constructed the installation, and First Solar, a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems.
In just three months, Belectric installed more than 483,000 of First Solar’s advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules on 200 acres of low-quality, Grade 3 agricultural land that has historically failed to drain quickly enough for efficient crop production.
Landmead Solar Farm remains integrated with its surrounding farmland, and 95% of the land remains materially unchanged by the installation of solar modules and infrastructure. The site, therefore, retains the capability for continued agricultural use in the form of grazing sheep.
As the majority of land is essentially unchanged, it will revert quickly to a natural state, while security measures will restrict public access. This makes the site well-suited to recreating the type of wildlife habitat that has been lost to agricultural intensification over the years, free from pesticides and human disturbance. As well as sheep grazing, Belectric will be optimizing parts of Landmead to support biodiversity — for example, by planting native wildflowers to support bees and other pollinating insects, and introducing ground cover for small mammals and birds.
Landmead will be used for solar power generation, sheep farming and biodiversity enhancement for the next 25 years. After this, the solar modules and infrastructure will be removed and the site will be restored to its pre-existing state.
Belectric UK | December 19th, 2014