One of the largest solar farms to be completed in the UK has been acquired by Bluefield Solar Income Fund.
The West Raynham solar farm, a 49.9MW array in Norfolk, was acquired by the London-based income fund on 30 June.
The solar farm was built by Maessa Telecomunicaiones, Ingenieria and Instalaciones y Servicios and was acquired from Chinese PV manufacturer, Trina Solar’s European arm, Trina Solar Luxembourg.
On a site visit to the West Raynham solar farm, Solar Power Portal learnt that the project was energised in time to claim support under the Renewable Obligation before the government scrapped all RO support for solar projects over 5MW.
However the accreditation date was extremely tight, with the solar farm only being fully commissioned on 30 March. The close timeline was due in part to the local Distribution Network Operator providing power to the site on 15 March. The importance of the project meant that Trina Solar had to turn down other UK projects in order to ensure that the Raynham park was commissioned to schedule.
Although located on lower grade agricultural land, the solar farm site will be grazed by sheep throughout the lifetime of the project. The developers also included a specific wildflower meadow that occupies a section of the site. The initial plan was to run a wildflower meadow alongside the access roads on the solar farm, however, following feedback from the local farmer the decision was made to plant and seed wildflowers in one defined area of the site to better boost onsite biodiversity.
The solar farm site uses over 16km of cabling running from the site’s location to its grid connection. The long cable run meant that the developer faced a number of horizontal drilling challenges, which included boring tunnels under roman roads, rivers and forests. The deepest point the project had to drill its cable was 6 metres below ground level.
The UK has experienced a huge increase in ground-mounted solar farm deployment in the first quarter of 2015 in response to the government’s decision to scrap RO support for larger solar farm projects. Intelligence recently published by Solar Intelligence has revealed that over 2.5GW of new solar capacity was connected to the grid in Q1 2015, the vast majority of which were ground-mount solar farms.
The acquisition of the West Raynham site takes the total capacity of PV assets under management for Bluefield to over 250MW.