The United Kingdom’s largest solar farm is now fully operational and working to power homes throughout the nation. The 46-megawatt solar farm in Landmead was connected to the national grid in Oxfordshire last Friday, and it can provide enough energy to power 14,000 homes. The land, which is currently used to graze sheep, will continue to be used for that purpose – and native wildflowers will be planted in an effort to “improve the site’s biodiversity.”

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The Landmead solar farm was launched despite opposition from the UK’s environment secretary, Liz Truss, who claimed that solar projects impede food production. The Department of Energy and Climate Change also noted that they would like to see the end of solar farms and instead see solar panels mounted on buildings and rooftops. To this end, the department decided to end subsidies to farmers who only place solar panels on their land.

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Toddington Harper, chief executive of Belectric, the company that co-owns Landmead with First Solar, said the changes would not affect them.

“I think the changes to the subsidy scheme have certainly made life more difficult. Having said that, though they have changed the ROC scheme [Renewable Obligation Certificates, the subsidies being phased out], within the Contracts for Difference [the new subsidy scheme], there is still an opportunity to deliver projects like this for the UK,” he said.

Harper added that most people hardly notice solar farms because they are 2.2 meters high. If people are traveling around in helicopters, he said, it does look like a big change, but most people aren’t. “People driving by wouldn’t even know it’s there,” he said.

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The land also provides habitat for bees, Harper said, which is something the administration—including Truss—is encouraging. Landmead won’t be the largest solar farm in the UK for much longer: a new farm is planned in Norfolk and will generate 49.9 megawatts.

+ Belectric

Via The Guardian

Photos by Belectric UK