The Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) solar farm at DTTC Lyneham is the largest in the UK at 69.5MW, far higher than the originally expected capacity of 40MW, Solar Power Portal can reveal.

New findings uncovered by Solar Media in Munich last week now reveal the true extent of the largest solar PV site built in the UK to date. As revealed by Solar Power Portal exclusively last week, DTTC Lyneham’s solar farm was completed during March 2015 and became the first major part of the Cabinet Office’s long-awaited rollout of solar at government-owned sites in the UK.

However, the project is anything but just another solar farm in the UK. Solar Media Intelligence now understands that the final capacity installed was 69.5MW, way above the original 40MW that formed the basis of the initial planning applications to Wiltshire Council back in July 2014.

Following conditional approval in November 2014, a range of non-material amendments effectively saw the site almost doubled in size, and way above the nominal 50MW figure, above which consent from the National Grid is mandatory.

And the site could become even larger in the future. A DIO spokesperson confirmed to the Solar Power Portal that DTTC Lyneham “has the capacity to produce 86MW” should the 90 hectare site be expanded.

According to Solar Media’s new head of Solar Intelligence, Finlay Colville: “In any other solar market globally, and at any other time in the UK’s solar history before 2013, the realisation of a 70MW solar farm would have been headlined as a monumental achievement. However, the fact that this has been kept under wraps so much since March may simply be a reflection of the troubled relationship between the UK solar industry and a government that all too often has cut incentives whenever the industry has been highly successful in rolling out solar deployment.”

The planning documents also confirm what we noted in the earlier piece, that British Solar Renewables (BSR) was the successful EPC bidder to the project, originally developed by AMEC Environment & Infrastructure.

BSR is to pay the Ministry of Defence an annual ground rent for the site with all energy generated being supplied to the National Grid. The DIO has confirmed that all revenue paid to the MoD will be used to support national defence priorities. It is not yet clear however if the project is receiving subsidy support under Renewable Obligation Certificates having been completed before the 31 March deadline.

When asked if this was the first of more solar farms to be rolled out across training facilities in the UK, the DIO said it formed part of an “on-going exercise”. “The Cabinet Office together with all government departments are currently working to identify opportunities to develop renewable energy,” the spokesperson added.

Solar Media has also recently learned that the RAF Lyneham site was not the only >50MW solar farm completed in Q1’15. More details will be provided by Solar Media on these over the next few weeks as survey information is checked and verified with our industry contacts in the UK.