New PV projects of 36 MW and 20 MW approved as U.K. on course to hit 3 GW milestone soon


Christchurch Borough Council, in Dorset, southwest England, has granted permission to Eco Sustainable Solutions to build a 36 MW, 173-acre solar farm. Once completed, the project will generate enough electricity for approximately 9,000 local homes.

Construction of the project is expected to start before the end of the year, Andrew Diprose, director at Deep South Media press office for the South and West England, told pv magazine. Construction of the solar farm is expected to take approximately six months and once commissioned will operate for approximately 25 years, he added.

Trelawney Dampney, Eco Sustainable Solutions' Managing Director, also spoke with pv magazine: "Solar Power Generation Ltd. will build and own the first phase of the project, and Adiant Capital will build and own the second phase." Solar Power Generation Ltd. builds, operates and maintains large-scale solar PV parks across the U.K., while Adiant Capital is an investment management firm specialising in renewable energy infrastructure.

Dampney added: "Eco Sustainable Solutions funded the project's grid link and planning, then sold the project on to Solar Power Generation Ltd. and Adiant Capital."

The scheme had initially received opposition from Hurn and Parley parish councils, which prompted Dampney to make a voluntary financial contribution of £60,000 divided between the councils.

Solar farms, Dampney said, are "a clean, green way of generating energy with the panels having a low visual impact on the local landscape and creating no noise, pollution, bi-products or emissions. We believe they're the way forward."

The 36 MW project will be built near to a separate 20 MW, 118-acre solar farm run by British Solar Renewables Ltd on land also operated by Eco Sustainable Solutions. This £15 million (€20.3 million) scheme is now under construction, Diprose confirmed. Once completed the plant will meet the electricity needs of an estimated 5,000 homes.

Eco Sustainable Solutions was founded in 1994, employs 50 people and has an annual turnover of £10 million (€13.6 million). It also owns and operates the U.K.’s leading purpose-built site for organics recycling and renewable energy generation.

Apart from the two solar farms in Dorset, Eco Sustainable Solutions have no further solar PV plans at the moment, Dampney told pv magazine. "This was a opportunistic development," he added.

U.K. set to reach 3 GW of solar PV soon

Meanwhile, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its data on the country's energy capacity and generation, including for the first time a specific report on the deployment of solar PV.

The DECC revealed that 707 MW of solar PV was commissioned in the first half of the year, accounting an additional 70 MW commissioned in the folliwing two months, taking the overall total in the first eight months of the year to 777 MW.

DECC figures show that, at the end of June 2013, overall solar PV capacity stood at 2.4 GW, an increase of 14% (or 294 MW) on figures for the end of the first quarter of 2013.

The overall total includes 1,684 MW accredited on FiTs, 120 MW on the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, and 609 MW of unaccredited capacity.

DECC notes that although "growth in solar PV since June 2009 has been driven by the FiT (and particularly smaller-scale, <=50 kW schemes), more recently there has been an increasing amount of larger-scale capacity" too.

DECC's estimate of 707 MW commissioned in the first half of the year is significantly less than NPD Solarbuzz Inc.'s (California, U.S.) estimate of 802 MW. NPD Solarbuzz had also ranked the U.K. 6th among the countries with most solar PV capacity added in the first half of 2013. NPD Solarbuzz said only China, Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.S. added more PV capacity during this time. However, official statistics published by Greece suggest that the Mediterranean country added a staggering 949 MW of solar PV in the first two quarters of 2013, which would appear to contradict NPD Solarbuzz's assertions.

Nevertheless, the U.K. is in track to reach 3 GW of installed PV capacity soon.

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