Solarcentury's new 48 MW solar farm pledges higher environmental standards


At 48 MW, the Southwick solar farm in Fareham, near Portsmouth in southern England, is in itself noteworthy. But local solar companies Solarcentury and Primrose Solar – who have teamed up to deliver the project in time to beat next year's April 1 ROC withdrawal deadline – wish to set an eco-friendly example right from the off.

The U.K. solar farm is going to be constructed to the highest environmental standards, building upon the usual STA-backed 10 Commitments to which all Solarcentury developments adhere. Primrose Solar will take an industry-leading approach to biodiversity and ecological enhancements at the site, right down to sowing wildflowers with native seed into the land, shepherding in sheep to graze among the panels during autumn and winter, and installing bird and bat boxes onsite to ensure local wildlife habitats are maintained.

But that is only half of the story. During construction, Solarcentury will keep up its end of the eco-friendly bargain by introducing a range of measures designed to not only minimize disruption, but to also ensure the lowest carbon footprint possible.

These measures include the use of solar-powered and biodiesel generators to power the construction site, cutting the number of diesel deliveries and thus reducing local emissions. All contractors living within a five-mile radius of the site will be bussed in on minibuses or car sharing initiatives where possible, while all food waste and packaging from the onsite canteen will be recycled. Indeed, all food served onsite will be sourced from local food suppliers in order to lower each meal's carbon footprint and minimize traffic to the site.

Additional initiatives include the immediate recycling, in line with current WEEE regulations, of any solar panels damaged or broken during construction, as well ongoing, weekly monitoring of the construction process to ensure standards are being maintained and waste levels monitored.

"Our responsible approach to building solar farms, together with Primrose Solar's continued investment over the lifetime of the project, is really going to make Southwick solar farm an environmentally robust site," said Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel. "Our waste and energy management program will see a number of new initiatives employed during the build that we’re looking to roll out across all of our future sites."

Ongoing, these new initiatives include the installation of composting toilets that will remain onsite for visitors to use once the PV plant is complete, in addition to hedgerow-enhancing work to reduce the visual impact of the site, as well as the installation of CCTV powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

"We are excited about setting a new environmental standard for building Southwick solar farm," enthused Primrose Solar CEO Giles Clark. "And this is just the start. We are in this for the long term. For the next 25 years, Primrose wants to be a good neighbor: supporting the local community and working with the landowner to demonstrate responsible stewardship of the land for the lifetime of the solar farm."

Primrose Solar – which currently has 175 MW of solar PV either operating or under construction in the U.K. – will also work with local schools near to this, and other, solar farms to educate local pupils on the benefits of solar energy. This scheme will include site trips to PV farms and lessons on the opportunity solar farms give for the nurturing of biodiversity environments.

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