Work is now underway on the largest privately owned solar PV Installation in the UK to date. The vast array, located on farm buildings in the west of rural Herefordshire, stands at 300kW.
The installation includes 1,610 Sharp panels covering an area of farm building roof tops at just over 2000m2, which is the equivalent to around 10 tennis courts in area. The Southern Solar installation team will peak at 25 installers onsite during the most intensive installation phase this spring, the construction period is scheduled for six weeks.
The 300kWp array will require around 10km of cable, weighing in at almost four tonnes. The power output is equivalent to powering 76 typical UK homes (252MWh/yr, based on Ofgem Factsheet 96, released 18/1/11). Converting this to exportable electricity suitable for the National Grid, there are five Fronius CL 48 central inverters using the trademarked Mix system, where the individual power racks are turned off and on automatically depending on the insolation power.
This ensures that the load is optimized and yield is always at maximum – even while raining, when cloudy or at dusk. In order to ensure continued peak performance the site is also set up with an online data logging system to provide in depth analysis of the PV installation, monitor the array and ensure peak performance.
The array will provide around 55% of the energy required for this farm. This free energy can be used on-site for lighting, powering machinery or to help with the electrical needs of heating and ventilation systems. Any electricity that isn’t used on site is sold back to the grid.
Farm buildings with large roofs or south facing un-shaded fields are well suited to solar PV systems and good sites produce excellent returns. In this instance the client has gone from a net energy cost of around £35,000 per annum to a net income of around £45,000 per annum.
Southern Solar have six offices in the UK, working with the local communities to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and their impact on the environment. Helping people across the region to understand whether renewable energy will work for them and more specifically, what renewable energy will work for them. They offer a range of products and systems as they find that as in this example, one size does not fit all!
Howard Johns, Managing Director Southern Solar said, “This is an exciting development for Southern Solar, and hopefully the start of many similar installations for us in the future. Our team has a great mix of skills that enables us to deliver projects from individual houses to some of the largest installations in the country. We only hope that the planned review of the feed in tariff doesn’t jeopardise this vibrant area of business.”