Amidst the flurry of bad news being broadcast out of the UK, as London riots rage across the city, there has been some good news on the alternative energy front as well.
Westmill Solar Farm, the UK’s largest solar farm, was connected to the national grid a couple of weeks ago. Power from adjoining solar and wind farms in Oxfordshire now provide energy to 4,000 homes for the next 25 years, at least.
The solar farm covers the equivalent of eight soccer pitches. It features 23,000 solar panels and went online just a few days before government changes to feed-in tariffs.
“The installation offsets 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, it will provide power for a minimum of 25 years and from an aesthetic point of view, it is quite a sight to behold”, said Chris Dean, managing director of Blue Energy, which constructed the solar farm.
The solar farm began harvesting sunlight at 4pm on July 19. Following the government’s decision to curtail tariff levels associated with large-scale solar projects as of August 1, Blue Energy is now focusing on providing solar schemes for residential settings.
Mark Shorrock, CEO of Low Carbon Solar, which handled planning and grid application processes, said: “Westmill is a great example of how land, not suitable for agricultural use in the UK, can be harnessed for renewable energy and ensure the provision of more secure and reliable energy for the UK’s future.”
Westmill Solar Farm will be the subject of the UK’s largest community co-operative scheme later this year, meaning local residents and other shareholders will have ownership of the project.
“We are in the process of tailoring solar energy projects with incorporated investment schemes for private dwellings across the UK”, Mr. Dean said.
Adam Twine, a director of Westmill Solar Co-op and who farms at Westmill Farm where both the solar and wind projects are situated, said: “Local ownership of a solar farm in the UK on this scale will be a first. We expect to be oversubscribed for the share offer as we were for a similar scheme involving the wind farm.
“It’s our hope that this model of local people taking positive action to address climate change and generate renewable energy effectively in their own community will be replicated across the UK.”
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.