The DECC may have won the feed-in tariff battle, but this solar power project has certainly won the war. With the opening phase of the Westcott Solar Park now switched on and connected to the grid, the project confirms its place as one of the first large-scale projects to be completed in the UK. Situated on the runway of a former Battle of Britain airfield, the plant has been developed by property company Rockspring to provide power to the Westcott Venture Park.

The installation, which was designed by Ownergy, received planning permission for 1,500 solar panels with a combined capacity of ~350kW in November 2010. Construction by German solar park contractors Solon SE started in April this year and the system was energised and registered on June 22 before being connected to the grid this week.

“Westcott provides a great example of the potential for solar power in Britain,” said Ownergy Chairman, Philip Wolfe. “It’s an ideal use of a heritage site, and onsite usage of the electricity optimises the financial returns of the project”.

“Property businesses are increasingly aware of their carbon footprint,” said Rockspring Director, Rod Mordey. “We are proud to be in the forefront by providing clean solar power to our tenants”.

Construction partner James Flynn said, “This deal represents one of the few large-scale solar projects to go ahead in the UK following the Government’s publication of its plans to reduce the feed-in tariff for large-scale solar plants. It is fantastic that the parties involved have managed to continue with this project. We hope this will encourage others within the industry to follow suit, and that the project can be used as an example with which to encourage Government to change its attitude to large scale solar projects.

“At a time when many larger solar projects have been scrapped, this deal sends out the clear message that large European solar specialists like Solon remain dedicated to helping UK businesses develop renewable energy projects.”

Planning approval has also been given to expand the system to a total of 1.6MW, which is enough to provide approximately 15% of the electricity used on the industrial estate. By completing the construction before the August 1 deadline, the first phase of the project will now benefit from the higher feed-in tariff rates.