It's been a crazy few weeks for large-scale solar in the UK. From the old mine turned 1.4MW solar plant via this combined wind and solar power plant (and bee sanctuary) to Toyota's 4.1MW ground mounted array, the initial surge of investment following the feed in tariffs has been huge. With the deadline of a Government review looming, however, developers are rushing to build these plants and bring them online before the end of the month—the latest being a 5MW solar field that was built in just 6 weeks. In doing so, they are highlighting one of the key advantages of solar power.
Business Green reports that Conergy won the frantic race to build Britain's biggest solar power plant before the end of the month deadline brought about by a Government review of feed in tariffs. The farm, located in Hawton, Nottinghamshire, covers 14.6 hectares and features 21,600 solar panels. Construction of the project began just 6 weeks ago, when planning permission was granted.
Emailing with a representative of another renewables group earlier this week, he told me that the next few weeks are likely to see a flurry of activity as other developers push for this funding deadline:
There's a load of solar announcements due in the next couple of weeks (I hear some projects are flying over 60+ Spaniards to get them up in time). But then it will go very quiet in the UK... at least until grid parity is reached.
While the Government cut of funding to any solar installation over 50kW in capacity is no doubt a blow to the burgeoning renewables industry, it does inadvertently demonstrate one huge silver lining—the ability to deploy real, large scale energy generating capacity in a matter of weeks, not months or years. Of course, the panels must be manufactured first—so this is hardly creating a power plant from scratch—but with demand for solar growing around the world, we should see a major ramp up of manufacturing capacity in the coming years too.