Pupils from Clyst St. Mary Primary School have learnt about the potential of solar farms to boost biodiversity and generate clean energy on a site visit to a proposed solar site in Exeter.

The schoolchildren spent the day learning about the ability of solar PV technology to generate electricity in the UK from the sun’s energy. Visiting the potential site, pupils were sent on a hunt for bugs and wildlife to help document biodiversity and learn more about local flora and fauna.   

Ellie Wilkinson, deputy headteacher and head of science at Clyst St. Mary Primary school said: “This is a great learning experience for the children – as well as understanding the importance of solar power they can appreciate the benefits a solar park has on wildlife and insects too.”

“The children have been filling in a weather diary and a biodiversity study to compare with the potential solar park site,” commented Lorna Lopes, educational consultant for Solstice Renewables. “In the morning in their classrooms they looked at how much energy they use and learned about how solar electricity can help meet our energy needs.”

The session at the solar farm was organised by Marlborough-based solar developer, Solstice Renewables. The company is planning on developing a 7.5MW solar farm at Shepards Farm near Exeter.

Giovanni Maruca, director of Solstice Renewables, explained the importance of teaching the younger generation the potential of renewables, she said: “It’s the next generation who will have to deal with the effects of climate change, so it’s important to start talking to kids as early as possible about renewables. As we are developing a solar park in the area this gives us a great opportunity to give them an insight into all aspects of a solar development.”

The proposed development is predicted to generated 7.92GWh of electricity annually – enough to power 2,250 average UK homes. The operation of the solar farm would also negate the emission of 3,250 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The company has committed to setting up a community benefit fund as part of the proposal. The fund would pay £1,000 per MW for the lifetime of the solar farm – a total of more than £187,500.

Solstice Renewables has said that it will work with the local Parish Council to identify the best way to bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the area through the proposed fund. As part of its proposals, Solstice Renewables has confirmed that it would offer an additional £2,000 a year to local schools to run educational programmes linked with the solar farm.

Solstice Renewables held a public consolation over the 7.5MW solar farm in February and will submit its planning application East Devon District Council shortly.