Criteria Checklist for Solar Farms in the UK

Solar Farm - UK

by Jarrah Harburn on September 18, 2012

Interest in large-scale solar installations and solar farms is experiencing something of a renaissance across the UK, thanks to the rapidly falling cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) technology here. If you own property and are considering investing in a solar farm to add a supplementary revenue stream to your business activities, or simply to save money on your power bills, there are a number of factors that may affect how the project is planned and executed.

Considering a solar farm? Some questions to ask

The below checklist will be included in any project brief for solar farm tenders managed by the Solar Selections Commercial team, and will help them determine your eligibility for becoming a solar farmer.

1. What is the exact location of the proposed solar farm?

If possible, obtaining aerial photos (taken from Google Maps or similar) will be the first step in the site assessment. Are there any surrounding environmental, geographic, or geological factors that might have an effect on the solar array proposed for that location?

2. What are the current and what were the previous uses of the land?

Depending on the current use and zoning of the land, planning and construction procedures may differ. Previous uses of the land may also have an impact on planning and construction. An idea site will be what is called a Brown Field site, i.e. land that is infertile and unsuitable for agriculture.

3. Is the ground rocky? How deep is the top soil?

Rocky ground may be more difficult to build on or insert ground-mounts into. Topsoil depth also affects structural stability of foundations.

4. Is the land flat? If not, what gradient and orientation?

The incline of the proposed land impacts on ease of building and access and needs to be taken into account.

5. Is there access?

Roads and paths will be essential for construction vehicles and crews to enter and exit the construction site.

6. Can the field be seen from a road?

If the site is visible from the road there may be additional planning considerations due to perceived impact on the visual amenity of the area.

7. Where is the nearest substation/power connection?

To be eligible to receive feed-in tariffs or ROCs, solar farms must be connected to the electricity grid. Proximity to a substation or power connector is desirable because voltage drop/power losses over power cables increase with distance. The size of the power line is also important, a 33kVa line is ideal, however 11kVa lines are also suitable.

8. Is there any substantial energy consumption on the premises.

Is the proposed solar farm being considered for powering and offsetting the electricity bills of a commercial premises, or as an additional revenue stream that takes advantages of feed-in tariffs?

9. Is there any existing solar PV installed on the property currently?

Installing a new system on a property where one already exists may have an impact on the feed-in tariff eligibility of the first system. Additional electrical connection considerations will also apply with a second system.

10. Are there any substantial solar PV or Wind Farm installations nearby?

Receiving permission to connect to the grid may depend on the state of the network in the region of the proposed installation–an already high penetration of solar power or wind (both types of ‘distributed generation’) may affect the ease of being granted permission for a grid connection.

11. Is the proposed location of the Solar Panels in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Natural Park?

It is unlikely that a Solar Farm will receive receive planning consent if it is located within either of these two categories of land.

12. Are there any factors that might influence the timeline of the project?

Are there any impending feed-in tariff or other renewable incentive policy (such as Renewable Obligation Certificates) deadlines or changes? Clients may have other considerations of their own in addition to this.

Written By Solar Selections.

© 2012 Solar Selections

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