The Southwick Estate Solar Farm in Hampshire, U.K., has been connected to the grid and is now generating enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of approximately 14,500 average homes.
Owned and operated by UK-based Primrose Solar, the 48 MW Solar Farm is currently the largest & greenest solar farm operating in the U.K.
Environmental & ecological approach
Southwick Solar Park is also notable for setting a new environmental standard for groundmounted solar.
Primrose Solar worked closely with Solarcentury, the solar company responsible for the construction, to ensure that environmental considerations were incorporated throughout the planning, construction and operational lifetime of the solar farm.
Initiatives during construction included: the use of solar-powered and biodiesel generators; recycling over the whole site including food and canteen waste; installation of composting permanent toilet facilities; car sharing scheme; hot and cold food facilities on site to prevent lunchtime vehicle traffic offsite; and the installation of CCTV running on hydrogen fuel cells.
The solar farm will also operate to the highest ecological standards during its 25-year lifetime. Primrose is working with Wychwood Biodiversity, co-authors of the BRE National Solar Centre guidelines on biodiversity in solar farms, to create a habitat management plan for the site, which is Grade 4 agricultural land considered unsuitable for growing crops.
Wildflowers will be sown using a native seed mix to help reverse declining pollinator species such as bees and butterflies whose habitats have been decimated by intensive farming practices in recent decades. Hedgerows, trees and ponds are also being enhanced as part of the habitat management plan for the site. Beehives and bat boxes will be installed in April; in autumn and winter, sheep will be grazed among the panels, so the land will be used for food production as well as for producing clean solar electricity.
Mark Thistlethwayte, Southwick Estate, said: “The Southwick Estate is pleased to be home to the UK’s largest and greenest solar farm, and we’re looking forward to working with Primrose Solar as responsible stewards of the land for the 25-year lifetime of the project.”
Source: Primrose Solar connects UK’s largest & greenest solar farm to grid Press Release by Primrose Solar. Image Credit: Primrose Solar.