Lightsource Renewable Energy has completed the development of three different solar parks across the country. The largest of the new parks, located in Cambridgeshire, boasts a capacity of 5MW. The other two parks are located in Devon and are rated at 2.5MW and 3.5MW.      

In order to develop the solar projects, Lightsource worked closely with Solarcentury’s engineering and project management teams, as well as partnering with Eaton’s Electrical Sector. The power management giant supplied and installed complete balance of system (BoS) solutions for each of the solar parks.  

In addition, Eaton designed, supplied and installed eight custom-built substations to facilitate grid connection. In order to minimise the time and cost of installation, Eaton constructed and tested each substation onsite.  

The electricity generated from the park is fed into Eaton DC junction boxes and multiple SolarMax TS-SV 330kW inverters. From there the inverters feed Eaton’s Memform low-voltage switchboards. The substations also incorporate 280V to 11kV transformers and Eaton Xiria 11kV ring main units with integral G59 protection. The inclusion of these units allows the vacuum switching technology to minimise both maintenance requirements and the environmental impact of the equipment during manufacture and at end-of-life disposal – a key element when seeking planning permission.

All three projects were subject to significant time constraints, as the companies rushed to beat the latest round of cuts to the feed-in tariff under the degression model. Despite the challenging deadlines, the three solar parks were registered and connected to the grid just in time.

Large-scale solar developments have experienced something of a renaissance in the UK thanks to the rapid cost-reduction the solar industry has accomplished over the last 18 months. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) recently announced at Solar Power UK 2012 that it was scrapping plans to force all solar developers to use the feed-in tariff scheme for all installations <5MW. The move was hailed by the clean-tech community as the Renewable Obligation scheme has a significantly larger budget than the feed-in tariff scheme. However, the proposed RO subsidy rate for solar is due to be slashed from 2ROCs to 1.5ROCs in April next year.