Frequently Asked Questions
What is solar power?
Solar power is one of the most well-established and cheapest renewable energy technologies. Renewable energy is an alternative to sources of power from fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, which are being phased out by the Government because of the carbon emissions they produce. Renewable energy produces “greener” electricity because it does not emit carbon into the atmosphere. Solar farms generate clean electricity at scale, usually to feed into the National Grid.
How does a solar farm work?
Energy from the sun is collected by Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels by allowing particles of light to knock electrons free from atoms to generate a flow of electricity . These are finished in blue/black and are designed to maximise the capture of solar energy. They produce no noise, or vibration and operate even in cloudy conditions. The energy from the sun is converted through inverters and transformers to the form of electricity supplied by the National Grid. Once installed, solar farms require little maintenance and the land between and around the solar panels can continue to be used for grazing animals.
How many homes can this scheme supply with electricity?
The proposed solar farm and battery store will make an important contribution to the supply of renewable energy. The import/export capacity of the battery store will be 30MW. The proposed installed capacity of the panels will be 27.7 MWp. To provide some context, that will be enough electricity to power 7,107 homes within the District annually, charge 666, 297 Nissan Leaf electric cars, boil 266,518,652 kettles and
save 5,601 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Nissan Leaf Standard model with a 40kW battery: https://ev-database.uk/car/1106/Nissan-Leaf
Household data from BEIS - Using Mean Electricity Usage figures by Local Authority: http://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sub-national-electricity-consumption-data/
What about carbon savings?
The proposed installation would have a rated capacity of 30MWp, saving approximately 5,601 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major contributor to global warming, causing climate change. That is why the Government has committed to reduce carbon emissions. In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK's net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Doing so would make the UK a 'net-zero' emitter.
The UK is currently not on track to meet its previous, less ambitious, target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050. Getting to net-zero will require much more action and in May 2019 the Committee on Climate Change said the UK government's policy actions "[fell] well short of those required for the net-zero target". The government announced a number of policy updates throughout 2020 culminating in a new energy white paper 'powering our net-zero future'. Amongst the ambitions and targets are headline grabbing measures such as bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, however the paper recognises the basis of a low carbon net-zero electricity system is crucial in the transition and will be delivered most significantly by wind and solar generation.
Greenhouse gas reporting: Conversion Factors 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2021
After the solar farm, will the site be used for building houses?
The use of land for a solar farm does not mean that land becomes "brownfield" land, so there is no increased possibility for the land to be built on. Conditions are generally placed on any solar farm planning permission so that when energy generation ceases, the site is returned to its previous agricultural use.
What benefit is it to the community?
Where possible, we try to offer local jobs and supply contracts when we get to the construction, operation and maintenance phase of running our sites. The project will also contribute business rates to the local council.
More broadly we are providing a renewable energy source for future generations, maintaining supply and adding to the UK's energy security. Not only this, but onshore wind and Solar PV are now the cheapest form of electricity generation and will help to lower prices.
Once built, solar energy farms also provide great opportunities for enhancement measures for wildlife. We aim for a biodiversity net gain by improving the quality, quantity and variety of habitats to support and improve the Iocal environment.
BEIS electricity generation costs 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/beis-electricity-generation-costs-2020
What does a solar farm look like in the landscape?
Placing solar farms on flat or gentle slopes helps to minimise its appearance in the landscape. Existing natural screening is sought and additional planting further helps to reduce visibility. Solar panels are designed to absorb as much light as possible, not to reflect light away. A landscape and visual impact assessment is commissioned for all solar farm planning applications and accompanies the planning application.
How do you choose the location of a solar farm?
The site was selected in reflection of the primary site criteria for solar farms, which are:
• A suitable electrical connection -it must be technically and economically viable to connect the site to the local electrical distribution system;
• There is a suitable solar resource -taking into account site orientation and absence of excessive shading;
• Land is available- the landowner supports the development and is prepared to enter into an arrangement to accommodate the proposal;
• Site sensitivities and potential impacts of development-there must be no clear barriers to potential development and a relatively low impact on the local area.
• Road access -there must be adequate access to the site from the national road system for delivery and construction purposes;
What is the impact on local biodiversity?
Most solar farms include planting and management schemes that enable a biodiversity net gain from the project. Hedgerow planting can provide important corridors for many species to use, including hedgehogs, birds and bats. Allowing some areas of grassland to grow rank may not look tidy, but is just what a lot of small insects and reptiles love. A solar farm can provide a greater mix of habitats than would otherwise be found and most solar farms now have a management plan in place to look after the wildlife value of the site.
Will there be disruption from construction?
Work during the construction phase will be controlled through conditions placed on a planning permission. These generally include matters such as the hours of working, routes to be used by vehicles, and storage of materials during construction. Following construction and commissioning of the installation, very little maintenance is required, and this would generally only need a visit using a van the size of a Transit or smaller. Construction will take roughly 4 months to complete.
How long will the solar farm be operational for?
The development will be designed to operate for around 40 years.
What happens at the end of the operational life?
At the end of the project's lifetime, all equipment will be removed from the site. The decommissioning process takes approximately the same time as the installation process. Equipment removed is reused or recycled and the land returned to agricultural use.
What maintenance is needed?
As solar panels have no moving parts, they require minimal maintenance. A remote monitoring system notifies us should a fault arise. A maintenance team will typically visit the site once or twice a month to inspect and maintain the equipment and land.
What security measures will be in place?
The solar farm will be fenced off and CCTV in operation viewing the boundaries and interior of the development.
Does a solar farm make any noise?
No, the only moving parts on UK solar farms are the fans in the inverter station. The fan within the inverter is the same size and rating of a fan that is found in most domestic bathrooms.
What is battery storage and how does it work?
In simple terms battery storage works by charging up with electricity from the grid or directly from renewable energy sites at times of low demand on the network, then can respond by discharging the stored electricity back to the grid when demand is high.
The most commonly used technology is lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery cells; thousands of small cells are packaged into modules and arranged into racks within specially adapted containers. Multiple containers are connected to Power Conversion Systems to convert the electricity into the most suitable form for storing or exporting to the grid.
Why do we need battery storage?
To meet our Net Zero targets there will be much more renewable energy on the grid. We will also be making use of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and the electricity network needs to adapt to meet our changing use of energy.
Renewable energy generation, in particular solar and wind, is intermittent, meaning energy is not always generated when it is needed. Storage facilities efficiently balance supply and demand on the national grid network and thus without energy storage, the transition to clean energy is not possible. Batteries also have the ability to instantly respond to a drop in generation or a spike in demand. This is otherwise done with 'operating reserve', fossil fuel stations that sit as backup to prevent outages but most of the time are not supplying, creating emissions and losses on the system, such as diesel generators, for example. Reducing these losses by deploying more storage, means we will need less overall generation to meet our supply requirements and speed up the transition to a low carbon grid. In addition, deployed widely across the country, the flexibility battery storage brings will reduce the need for costly network reinforcements.
All these aspects show the importance of battery storage to the network the UK needs to provide a reliable energy supply to power our homes and businesses. Without the flexibility storage brings, the committee on climate change warn that "system costs to consumers could increase by £3-£5 billion per annum by 2030 and by almost £8b by 2050, unless new sources of flexibility are attracted onto the system".
Report published by Poyry and Imperial College London in collaboration with the Climate Change Committee in 2017 named 'A Roadmap for Flexibility Services'.
What are the benefits of battery storage?
Storage is essential to increase grid flexibility as the electricity network moves to a low carbon smart network. Amongst a variety of storage technologies on the network or emerging, battery storage specifically has a number of advantages which will make it a key asset in our grid network.
Huge investment in battery technology for energy systems and EVs has seen vast improvements in performance coupled with reducing costs, making batteries one of the cheapest, safe and mature storage options available. Relative to their size, they have high energy density, they take up verv little physical space and are quick and easy to build. Because of this, compared to most other forms of storage they have minimal environmental impact. Batteries are very flexible in their arrangment and modes of operation and with the ability to respond at sub-second speeds they can provide flexibility the grid needs to operate efficiently better than most other technologies.
A recent report by the World Economic Forum found batteries could enable 30% of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors, provide access to electricity to 600 million people who currently have no access, and create 10 million safe and sustainable jobs around the world.
2019 report from the World Economic Forum 'A Vision for a Sustainable Battery Value Chain in 2030 Unlocking the Full Potential to Power Sustainable Development and Climate Change Mitigation'.
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