The first solar site has been connected to the grid using Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution’s Point of Connection Mast (POC-MAST).
Bradenstoke solar farm sits on the former RAF Lyneham base in Wiltshire, and was developed with the Ministry of Defence. When the 70MW solar farm first became operational in 2015, it was the largest solar development in the UK.
In January, Bluefield Solar Income Fund acquired the site for £89 million from owner Siem Industries SA subsidiary. It is operated by British Solar Renewables, which signed a five year power purchase agreement with Shell Energy in 2018.
When initially constructed, the solar farm was connected via a private wire to an offtaker whilst work to connect it to the grid was undertaken. SSEN has now been able to connect it directly onto an existing tower that already forms part of the electricity infrastructure in the area through the busbar.
Given the location of Bradenstoke – which sits next to an ancient woodland on a former runway – there were a number of challenges around connecting the site. As such it initially appeared that the network operator would have to construct a new tower, divert an overhead line and remove part of the woodland.
In looking for alternatives, SSEN contacted Freedom Professional Services, which developed the POC-MAST solution. The installation took just ten days, and there was no disruption to power supplies required.
SSEN was delighted to be able to use the solution at the RAF Lyneham site said Craig Gilroy, head of connections at the company, as it provided “a flexible and quick solution to enable the connection of this substantial solar farm".
“This innovative solution provides greater flexibility for renewable generators to connect to the network in a fraction of the time needed to connect using existing solutions and helps DNOs optimise the use of their infrastructure.”