Solar farms (sometimes known as solar parks or solar fields) are the large-scale application of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate green, clean electricity at scale, usually to feed into the grid.
Solar farms can cover anything between 1 acre and 100 acres, and are usually developed in rural areas.
Solar farms go through a rigorous planning procedure before they are approved. This takes into account the suitability of the specific site, any potential impact on the area and relevant renewable energy targets.
The UK needs solar power to meet its 15% renewable energy target by 2020, part of the EU’s renewable energy target. Solar also creates investment and local green jobs, whilst reducing the reliance on overseas fossil fuel imports.
Key statistics and facts about solar farms
- Solar farms are the most nature-friendly way of generating power for the grid and support endangered wildlife such as bees
- Solar makes virtually no noise or waste and has no moving parts
- Many solar farms are grazed by sheep or combined with other farming
- Solar is the most popular form of energy generation at more than 80% support
- Solar works well in Britain - solar panels in the South of England generate 65% of the power they would in Central Spain
- Community groups can invest in or set up their own solar farms
- Cheap electricity from solar farms could put £425m back into consumers pockets through reduced energy bills by 2030
- Solar is one of the best energy technologies for generating revenue in the UK
Some facts about solar farms
– They generate electricity locally and feed into the local electricity grid using a free source of energy (the sun) to generate electricity on bright cloudy days as well as in direct sunlight.
– For every 5MW installed, a solar farm will power over 1,500 homes annually (based on an average annual consumption of 3,300 kWh of electricity for a house) and save 2,150 tonnes of CO2. Approximately 25 acres of land is required for every 5 megawatts (MW) of installation.
– They represent time-limited, reversible land use and provide an increased, diversified and stable source of income for landowners
– They may have dual purpose usage with sheep or other animals grazing between rows, and can help to support biodiversity by allowing small animals access to otherwise fenced-off land, with bird and insect fodder plants and wildflowers sown around the modules.
– If 10,000MW of solar was installed on the ground, it would only use 0.1% of UK agricultural land area, whilst being able to generate enough electricity for over 3 million homes.
– There are no moving parts, and maintenance is minimal compared to other technologies
– There is no by-product or waste generated, except during manufacturing or dismantling.
– They have lower visual and environmental impacts than other forms of power generation
– Renewables give consumers the choice of buying green electricity and reduce reliance on fossil fuels