Cornwall Environmental Consultants Ltd

Solar farms – the future of Cornwall?

Solar panels (image from ClipArt)

November 2010

Cornwall Environmental Consultants is busy working on plans throughout the southwest to build solar ‘farms’.  These farms will consist of rows of angled solar panels, about 2m high, collecting the suns energy and feeding it directly into the national grid.

Each development will produce up to 5mW of electricity with each megawatt of panels taking up around 3 hectares of land.  However, the rows of panels will have 3-4m of space between them and CEC hopes that this land will be used to grow wildflowers and for sheep grazing.

With such a new land use it is essential to make sure that they will fit into the landscape and that wildlife will still be able to share a home.

Phil Hills, CEC’s Manager, said:

“We will be assessing the landscape and wildlife impact of these solar farms, helping developers to pick the right sites and avoid those places which will be most sensitive.  We will look at where they can be seen from, how they affect the character of an area, and how habitats and species will be affected.  We hope that in the right place and with the right management solar farms can become havens for wildlife over the next 25 years”.

The increase in interest in solar power is a result of PV technology becoming more affordable and the Feed In Tariff, which aims to stimulate the growth of renewable energy by guaranteeing the price at which electricity generated will be bought.

Phil added:

“The government is hoping that up to 3 gigawatts (3,000 mW) of energy can be generated from solar power.  Cornwall is the sunniest county in the country, although some of us who live here might not always agree, and so is naturally the first place to look for suitable sites.  However, we are helping developers to look at sites across the southwest as far north as Bristol”.

CEC has put together a team to help developers apply for planning permission for solar farms including consultants in planning, flood risk, archaeology, landscape and ecology.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010 at 10:51 am and is filed under News.

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