Your questions answered
How does solar power work and what to expect as a resident living near a solar farm? We've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions here.
How does solar work?
Solar energy farms are ground mounted solar installations that range in size from 50 kilowatts to thousands of kilowatts. The solar panels are mounted onto a framing system which is installed on the ground. The solar panels use PV technology to convert daylight into electricity. It’s the same technology that powers your calculator.
We plan to include batteries at site, which allows excess solar electricity to be stored on site and used when the grid needs more power, helping the National Grid better manage their network.
Solar panels produce energy from daylight rather than sunlight, so they continue to produce electricity even when the weather is overcast. With the addition of batteries on site, any electricity produced during the day can be stored and used at any time whenever it’s needed; day or night.
There is some noise generated on site during the construction stage but this is only for a short duration. Once built, there is low level noise from the cabins housing the associated equipment. From the edge of the site, any noise produced will be less than other background noise such as passing traffic, wind and other local sounds.
There can be some glint and glare from the panels, but we design and locate them so this is negligible, taking into account the location of properties and the local landscape. Studies show that reﬂection from vegetation and bare soil can be more signiﬁcant than from similar areas of solar.
There are a number of benefits to having a solar energy farm.
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. Local suppliers can register their interest on this website.
The project will also contribute business rates to the local council and as part of our ongoing commitment to communities, we offer community grants to support local project and causes.
More broadly we are providing a renewable energy source for future generations, maintaining supply and adding to our energy security.
Once built, solar energy farms also provide great opportunities for micro-habitats. The variety of dry and wet and shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can support a wide variety of wildlife.
How is a solar farm built?
There are a number of phases. We start with a site feasibility assessment which has already identified this site as a suitable place for a solar farm. We then move into a consultation and surveying phase where we gather information and opinions on the proposal. Among other things, we assess the environmental, visual and ecological impact of the site and consult with the local community, the council and relevant public authorities. This information finalises the design and associated reports that are submitted with a planning application. The Local Authority will then follow their processes to determine the application, which concludes with permission either being granted or declined.
If permission is granted, there is then a period of time where the construction contracts are finalised before work on the site is ready to start.
Construction of a solar energy farm typically takes three to eight months. In the ﬁrst six weeks most of the deliveries take place. After the parts have been delivered to site there are fewer vehicle movements as the site is built and then made operational.
Yes for the term of the lease but any land classed as agricultural that hosts a solar energy farm maintains its classification throughout the course of the lease. The agricultural land can be reverted back to agricultural use within a short space of time at the end of the lease period, as the scheme can be completely cleared away restoring the site to its former condition.
We will be using a battery energy storage system as part of the project which will 1) enable excess solar electricity to be stored when demand is low; 2) supply extra power when the demand for electricity is high; and 3) help the National Grid maintain the network’s 50Hz frequency.
They will be securely located within their own fenced compound.
Lithium batteries come in a variety of forms. We plan to use Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries which are a different form of battery to those used in personal electronic devices and are easier to manage.
The batteries will be handled under their own safety management plan to ensure that all relevant standards and best practice guidance are covered. This is will be relevant at the time of the system’s design and throughout their operational life, with respect to how they are operated and maintained.
The project does not rely on any government subsidies. It secures its revenue by trading its electricity either on the market or under contract to suppliers, and by securing contracts to provide electricity management services to the grid.
How are you responding to Covid-19
In much the same way as we normally do, but without face to face communications. We’ll continue to: 1) Write to local residents and businesses about the proposal, 2) Ask for feedback and views, 3) Put all the project details online for people to see and read, 4) Speak to local stakeholders, organisations and groups.
Feedback can be submitted via the solar farm project page, online survey, letter, email or phone call. The team are here to help.
Anybody carrying out preparatory work on this project is following the latest Government guidelines. Most of our team are currently working from home and those who can’t will be following social distancing guidelines.
We have been advised that ecologists and environmental professionals have received dispensation from DEFRA to continue with outdoor work, including ecological surveying and supervision, as long as they follow Public Health England guidelines. Work that does not require travel, such as desk-based surveys and report writing, will be completed from home where possible.