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Monday, 27 June 2011

UK's biggest solar energy farm connects to national grid

The Guardian
June 27, 2011

Britain's biggest array of solar panels has begun generating in Oxfordshire. The first large ground system to feed into the national gridwill benefit from the tariff scheme paying a premium for supplying clean electricity.

Howbery business park's companies specialise in engineering, environmental and water research and development and its 3,000-panel array generates up to 682 MWh a year, a quarter of its needs, and thereby save 350 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Derry Newman, chief executive of Solarcentury, the company that supplied the solar photovoltaic modules, said that the UK's famously overcast weather did not make it an unsuitable place for solar power.

"Solar works on daylight, not necessarily [direct] sunlight and it gets light every day in Britain," he said. "Of course it generates more on a very bright day than a dull day. If you average over the year, the amount of cumulative daylight, energy per square metre, is very well known and is very predictable. Over the life of the system, the amount of energy produced is very predictable."

Though the biggest in Britain, Howbery is dwarfed by those in Spain or Italy, up to 10 times bigger. Solarcentury, the panel maker, has similar projects due online next month, but these could be the UK's last big solar farms for some time. In February, the government announced a review of feed-in tariffs for anyone generating more than 50kW of power and cut the rates payable for large ground-mounted solar installations by more than 70%.


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