We have all heard of solar farms, but we have one right here in sunny Sidlesham! Some of the men who installed it have been staying at Chichester Self Catering as it has been installed, and I asked if I could take some photos as things progressed to show you what is involved!
Here are some stats for you…
- It will go live in by the end of March 2015.
- The solar farm will have the capacity to generate up to 12MW of clean energy, enough to power around 3,686 average UK households.
- It will save around 5,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year
- The renewable electricity generated by the solar farm will be exported to the grid.
- Agricultural use will continue alongside renewable energy generation at Baker’s Farm. The plans include the establishment of a nectar rich meadow managed by sheep grazing around and beneath the solar panels.
- It extends to 22 hectares (54 acres) – its BIG!!!
- The site is/was predominantly grade 3a, 3b and 4. Agricultural land graded from 1 – 3a is deemed the ‘best and most versatile’; with 3b, 4 and 5 deemed the lowest quality.
- The established hedgerows and trees along the borders of the site would be reinforced with additional planting to provide natural screening and improve habitats for wildlife.
- The site will revert in 30years back to fields.
- No public rights of way cross the site.
The solar farm consist of panels mounted onto a series of frames arranged to face south to maximise sunlight exposure. The frames will be angled at 20 to 30 degrees and will at their lowest point sit around 0.9m off the ground, extending to a maximum of 2.31m above ground.
The solar farm will be a temporary development and will be decommissioned after 30 years. There will be no change of use and the site will be returned to arable production and / or pasture on decommissioning. Currently its really muddy but I am told that it will be given a good clean up before the site is left and there will be lots more planting etc.
The location of the solar farm site was selected to ensure minimal visual impact. The site is gently sloping and low-lying and is well screened, with established hedgerows and trees along the northern and southern borders of the site. Along the southern boundary in particular, the trees and hedgerows are taller than the proposed solar panels and so will considerably restrict views of the solar farm from the south.
Even better is that Developer Solafields is offering grants of up to £10,000 to support community projects local to its solar farm in Sidlesham. The village of Sidlesham is therefore hoping that some of this could go towards creating a new village hall / meeting point, by way of starting off the process of creating plans etc for this very disparate village. Sidlehsam is made up of 5 spread out hamlets really – we have the largest Parish by land anywhere in West Sussex!
Here at Chichester Self Catering we have our own renewables. I personally think it is really important to be as self-sufficient as possible. So we have 22 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof at Nature’s Elements and an air source pump – for our hot water and heating needs. Plus there are solar panels at Living Elements house for hot water.
© Gayle Palmer / Chichester Self Catering March 2015