Solar power has currently become the third-most used renewable energy in the UK. Homeowners are installing solar panels and using solar power to generate electricity. The UK solar power usage has seen a significant increase in the last few years.
The UK government is looking for ways to provide cheaper solar power to the citizens. This has given rise to solar farms where large scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are placed. These solar farms provide clean, green, and locally sourced renewable solar energy to businesses and households.
According to statistics, the UK currently has about 500 solar farms in operation. There has been a significant increase from 5,488.6 MW in 2014 to 13,258 MW in June 2019. The guide focuses on the top solar farms in the country and provides more information about solar farms. It also talks about the pros and cons of solar farms.
- 1 Evolution of Solar Farms in the UK
- 2 Advantages of Solar Farms
- 3 Disadvantages of Solar Farms
- 4 What Is The Future Of Solar Farms In The UK?
- 5 Top Solar Farms in the UK
- 6 Final Thoughts
Evolution of Solar Farms in the UK
Solar farming has been a prevalent method to harvest sunlight and create solar energy. A solar farm comprises several solar photovoltaic systems that provide renewable energy to different sources.
The land for the solar farm is safe for wildlife and nature. You will also find animals grazing and wildflower and grass growth below the solar panels. Since solar farms are spread over a large area, they are generally located in rural areas.
The process of getting approval for a solar farm is not easy. There have to be proper planning procedures that need to be passed by the government. The site will also be assessed to check if it is suitable for developing the solar farm.
Another essential factor that you need to check on is the impact of the farm on the locality. The solar farm should not endanger or harm the locality or environment. It should also be able to fulfil renewable energy needs.
Solar farms can cover between 1 to 100 acres of land. The solar farms should be large enough to power the houses present in the area. Approximately 5 megawatts of solar power will be enough to power almost 1500 houses in one year.
Advantages of Solar Farms
Solar farms have been on the increase in the UK, and it is growing continuously every year. Companies are more open to investing in renewable energy sources to power both the commercial and residential sectors. Solar farms have been a great boon for the people of the UK.
Below are some advantages of a solar farm –
- Solar farms help in the generation of local electricity and feed the local grid. The photovoltaic system uses solar power to generate electricity.
- Since solar farms do not have any moving parts, there is no hassle of maintenance and assembly.
- Solar farms produce renewable energy, so customers have the option to buy green electricity. This reduces their dependence on fossil fuels which are non-renewable and scarce.
- Solar farms do not generate any waste or by-products. It is only during the dismantling or manufacturing process that it generates any waste material.
- The environmental and visual impact of solar power is lower than any other source of energy.
Disadvantages of Solar Farms
Just like solar farms have their advantages, there are certain disadvantages. The disadvantages of solar farms are as follows –
- Solar farms have to use more than a thousand panels to power most grids. Hence, the solar farms will require several acres of land, which can destroy agriculture and wildlife.
- The energy generation will be limited if the solar power exposure is limited. The climate in the UK is always changing, and this could extensively impact the efficiency of solar panels.
- The initial development costs of a solar farm are very high. However, the UK government provides several incentive programs to companies or people in favour of solar farms. Even farmers who are willing to turn their lands to solar farms will get incentives.
- People find solar farms to be unattractive and a hindrance to the beauty of nature.
What Is The Future Of Solar Farms In The UK?
The UK government has been making continuous plans to increase solar farms in different localities. One of the largest solar farms in Britain is the Shotwick Solar Park in North Wales.
Another large project underway in the UK is the Cleve Hill Solar Park which can power more than 91,000 homes. The success of this project would be a positive step towards the utilization of solar power in the UK.
Even though several changes are taking place regarding solar power, the government has eradicated any subsidies concerning renewable energy projects until 2025. This could create an impact on the number of solar projects been initiated in the next few years.
However, the UK government has always been supportive of the development of solar farms. To ensure that the world can move towards a clean and renewable energy source, support from the government is extremely crucial.
Top Solar Farms in the UK
There are several solar farms in the UK; however, we have mentioned the top five farms here. These are the largest solar farms that are currently operational.
Shotwick Solar Park
One of the largest solar farms located in Flintshire, Wales, is the Shotwick Solar Park. This solar farm was collectively developed by Compton Group and We-Link Energy and was commissioned in the March of 2016.
Shotwick Solar Park generates around 72.2 megawatts of solar energy every year. This solar farm is spread over 250 acres of land.
The solar power produced from this solar farm is used to feed power to private infrastructures. One of the infrastructures is the UPM Shotton Paper Mill, the largest paper mill in the UK. This solar farm supplies 70% of the solar energy used by the paper mill.
Lyneham Solar Farm
The Lyneham Solar Farm is located in Bradenstoke, Wiltshire. It is present on a former runway and is the first solar farm to be developed along with the British Ministry of Defence (MOD).
This solar farm covers around 213.3 acres of land and generates 69.8 megawatts. The solar farm has more than 17 kilometres of interconnected trenches that generates power from about 160,000 solar photovoltaic panels.
The Lyneham Solar Farm can provide solar energy to almost 10,000 homes along with an on-site military training college. This solar farm was commissioned in the March of 2015 and is the second-largest solar farm in the UK.
Owl’s Hatch Solar Park
The next solar farm on the list is Owl’s Hatch Solar Park. This solar park was commissioned in March 2015 and is situated at Herne Bay, Kent. This solar farm can generate about 51.9 megawatts of solar power.
The Owl’s Hatch Solar Park is present in the south of Herne Bay and covers about 212 acres of land. This solar farm is spread over eight fields.
The solar panels present in this solar farm are tilted at an angle of 22 degrees and are 2.4 metres tall. This land is known for its dual-use, where the solar farm is located and is also used for agricultural purposes and sheep grazing.
The power generated from this solar farm can be used to feed almost 14,000 homes.
Wroughton Airfield Solar Park
The Wroughton Airfield Solar Park is one of the largest solar farms that are ground-mounted. This solar farm is a collaborative project of the Science Museum Group and Public Power Solutions (PPS).
The Science Museum Group was looking for an income source to help refurbish all the aircraft hangers present on the earlier WWII airfield. This led them to start the solar farm project in collaboration with PPS.
Along with private investors, the 165 acres solar farm project was also funded by the local authorities of Wroughton. This solar farm was finished in March 2016 and could generate 50 megawatts of power and feed 12,000 homes.
West Raynham Solar Farm
The West Raynham Solar Farm was developed in March 2015 and is home to about 200,000 solar panels. This solar farm is spread over 225 acres of land and can generate 49.8 megawatts of solar power.
The solar farm is present in a disused airfield present in Fakenham. The solar energy generated is enough to power 11,000 houses.
Bluefield Solar, a well-known solar energy investor, purchased the solar farmland for £56.5m.
The UK has been home to hundreds of solar farms since it has understood the importance of solar power. Along with installing solar panels at different houses, the government is pushing the development of solar farms.
With the development of solar farms, several households and commercial properties can be supplied with solar energy. This not only reduces costs for individual households but also provides them with a reliable source of energy.
With the development of solar farms, people are reducing their reliance on non-renewable sources like fossil fuels. This has given rise to clean and green energy, which does not have any adverse effect on the environment.
With more development of solar farms, the UK could become one of the first countries to shift to solar energy and develop an environment-friendly energy source structure.