Over the years, there have been several attempts to build extra-environmentally friendly solar farms, incorporating traditional farming with its 21st century cousins — sheep and free-range poultry ranging in between and underneath solar panels, grazing and generally keeping things tidy. In the same tradition as these farms, Primrose Solar has selected Solarcentury to help build a solar farm to the highest environmental standards in Portsmouth, using a holistic approach to the construction and operation.
We don’t normally cover small project announcements — the Portsmouth solar farm, to be located on the Southwick Estate in Fareham, is coming in at only 48 MW. However, from my days covering global warming and climate change through to today, where I cover mostly investment and analysis, I have always had a penchant for the “extra-effort,” so to speak.
The Southwick solar farm will generate 48 MW of solar power, which is enough to power approximately 11,000 homes, and is expected to begin construction this month. But in addition to adhering to the usual STA 10 commitments, Solarcentury will be taking it a step further, “piloting an environmentally-stringent onsite waste and energy management programme,” while in turn, Primrose Solar will take “an industry-leading approach to biodiversity and ecological enhancements at the site.”
Primrose Solar is already working with Wychwood Biodiversity to carry out a full ecological survey and initiate the creation of a habitat management plan for the site. According to Solarcentury’s press release:
Wildflowers will be sown using native seed mix to help reverse declining pollinator species such as bees and butterflies whose habitats have been decimated by intensive farming practices in recent decades. In autumn and winter, sheep will be grazed among the panels, so the land will be used for food production as well as producing clean solar electricity.
“Our responsible approach to building solar farms, together with Primrose Solar’s continued investment over the lifetime of the project, is really going to make Southwick solar farm an environmentally robust site,” said Frans van den Heuvel, Solarcentury’s CEO. “Our waste and energy management programme will see a number of new initiatives employed during the build that we’re looking to roll out across all of our future sites.”
Looking beyond the agricultural aspects of the project, during construction, Solarcentury will be relying on solar-powered and biodiesel generators, onsite food provision to minimise lunchtime driving, recycling as much as possible (including the food and canteen waste), on-site composting toilet facilities, car sharing, and a CCTV setup running on hydrogen fuel cells.
“We are excited about setting a new environmental standard for building Southwick solar farm, working together with Solarcentury, a perfect choice for the build because of our shared values,” said Giles Clark, CEO Primrose Solar. “And this is just the start. We’re in this for the long term. For the next 25 years, Primrose wants to be a ‘good neighbour’: supporting the local community and working with the landowner to demonstrate responsible stewardship of the land for the lifetime of the solar farm.”
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