South West’s first solar farm operational
Over 5,600 solar panels transform old tin mine to generate electricity for 400 homes
The South West’s first solar farm has been connected to the grid in Cornwall by UK-based solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy. On the site of a disused tin mine, the 1.4 MW farm is the biggest in the UK to date. Covering a 7.2acre plot at Wheal Jane, Truro, it is the first of many renewable energy projects planned at the reclaimed mine. The farm’s 5,680 solar panels will generate 1,437 MWh of electricity a year, enough to power the equivalent of 430 homes in the area and save over 737 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. Lightsource Renewable Energy has a number of additional sites being built across the UK, due to be connected by the end of the month.
Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd. worked with Solarcentury, the UK’s most experienced solar energy company, to deliver the solar farm; the project is funded by Octopus Investments.
Conor McGuigan, Head of Planning, Lightsource Renewable Energy said: “It’s fantastic to see our first solar farm in the South West operational. It’s been a race against the clock to get it connected to the grid by the end of the month. Cornwall Council, Western Power Distribution, Wheal Jane Group, 35 Degrees, Solarcentury and the local suppliers have all played a significant role in making this happen. While it’s been disappointing that the Government has decided not to support the large scale solar sector going forward, the solar farms developed this summer will play a critical role in the supply of green energy in the UK. We look forward to helping building owners develop solar projects from this point.”
Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury added: “To see a tin mine diversify into producing 21st Century clean solar energy, provides an optimistic glimpse of where we’re now heading for our energy production. Wheal Jane’s solar farm demonstrates that solar technology can contribute to our clean energy future, and quickly. Solarcentury designed and constructed this site, powering over 400 homes, in less than two months. Solar is not to be underestimated; it is the fastest growing energy technology in the world, simply because it is clean, reliable and a readily available alternative to fossil fuels.”
Julian German, Cornwall Council cabinet member for the Environment, said: “It’s great to see the UK’s biggest solar farm opening in Cornwall where we are well placed to take advantage of the significant potential of solar power. Wheal Jane solar farm demonstrates how these developments have been sensitively sited, maintaining the balance of our need for clean energy and maintaining our landscape. Despite the Government’s change in policy on Feed-in tariffs, we are determined to ensure that solar energy brings great benefits to businesses and communities throughout Cornwall. Those with roof space for solar should see it as not only as helping to contribute to our clean energy future but a rewarding investment.”
For the construction of Wheal Jane solar farm, local contractors were employed to carry out the work, preparing the land, supplying fencing and installing the solar panels. The solar farm is situated at Wheal Jane, a reclaimed mine site, due to be home to the UK’s first earth science park that will use renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro, shallow and deep geothermal sources. The site is currently being developed with plans underway for a 60,000sqft business park.
Bernard Ballard, Marketing and Planning Director of the Wheal Jane Group added: “We are thrilled that Wheal Jane is now home to one of the UK’s first solar farms. This is another significant step towards our ambition to have a number of renewable technologies operating on the site providing green energy to businesses based here.’
Truro and St Austell based law firm Stephens Scown LLP has provided property and commercial legal advice to the Wheal Jane Group throughout this project.
Scott Mitchell, Partner and Commercial Property Team Leader at Stephens Scown LLP said: “We are absolutely delighted that this latest phase of regeneration and development of Wheal Jane has come to fruition through renewable technologies. This is the latest chapter in a long but extremely successful story for the site.”