Belectric and First Solar connect UK's largest solar farm


As companies in the UK hustle to complete projects before changes to its solar subsidies, Belectric and First Solar have completed what they claim to the be the country’s biggest solar farm. The Landmead Solar Farm is the latest in a series of joint projects developed by Belectric and First Solar. The two companies have a long history of working together in countries in an increasing number of countries. Their joint expertise in project supply and realization was primarily established during Germany’s PV boom.

Belectric and First Solar had announced that ground was broken on the project on November 6, 2013.

The Landmead Solar Farm is located on “low quality” agricultural land that does not drain sufficiently for arable use. It is, however, suitable for the grazing of sheep a usage that will continue alongside the site’s second life as a PV power plant. Belectric and First Solar report that 95% of the land remains unchanged by the solar array.

“From the environmental perspective, every kilowatt-hour of energy generated from sunlight prevents dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, while the low-grade agricultural land hosting the solar panels will be used to support wildlife, biodiversity and continued sheep farming,” said Belectric UK CEO Toddington Harper. “This is a prime example of the multiple benefits that best-in-class solar farm projects can deliver to the UK."

Alongside sheep grazing, the developing companies claim the site will support biodiversity through the planting of wildflowers to support bee communities. The grazing sheep will presumably assist in the maintenance of grass around the array but also present challenges in terms of ensuring components, such as cabling, are not damaged in the process.

Belectric and First Solar have worked together for over 10 years. In joint venture the companies have realized PV power plant projects in Europe, including Germany’s biggest in Templin, North Africa and the U.S.

According to figures from WikiSolar, the UK should now have over 2 GW of utility scale solar arrays larger than 4 MW. Figures from the former Solarbuzz show the UK has over 5 GW in cumulative PV capacity, with almost half of that being small-scale systems.

As the ROC subsidy scheme draws to a close in 2015, developers will be finishing up large scale schemes. Many are now turning their attention to the rooftop market.

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