The third-largest solar farm in the UK, which has been built on top of a restored landfill area in Essex, has started generating renewable energy.
The site is the largest solar farm in Europe to be built on a closed landfill site and is now providing an additional 59MWp (Megawatt peak) of renewable electricity capacity – enough to meet the energy demand from 15,000 homes.
The site at Ockendon, Essex, has been developed using the latest photovoltaic modules and is using 107,000 bi-facial solar modules, each rated at either 540Wp or 545Wp.
Waste company Veolia, which owns the site, said the modules absorb light on both sides to maximise the power density and are linked to inverters that convert DC to AC electricity. This is then fed to the National Grid via an on-site 132,000V transformer connected to the nearby Warley substation.
Capped landfill sites have become increasingly attractive locations for new solar power installations as they are often deemed unsuitable for residential or commercial construction.
But installing solar projects on landfills is a complex endeavour, with elements of permitting, construction and maintenance not required for a typical solar installation.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has committed to a five-fold increase of solar capacity in the UK, from 14GW to 70GW by 2035. This would require a project on the scale of Ockendon being installed roughly every five days from now until the end of 2035.
Veolia already generates 800GWh of electricity using a combination of solar, biomass, biogas and energy recovery facilities.
Donald Macphail, chief operating officer of Veolia’s treatment division, said: “This latest renewable energy development is a further step towards achieving a net zero carbon future for the UK, and a demonstration of how we can transform this restored landfill to give it a new life.
“Through harnessing the power of the sun to deliver renewable electricity we are advancing our aim to achieve ecological transformation, and countering climate change. The project also has greater significance as the solar arrays have minimal ground level impact, so the wildlife that has repopulated the restored land can continue to coexist with the technology.”
Matt Partridge, development director at REG Power Management, added: “We’re delighted to have worked with Veolia to help deliver another significant clean energy development. Projects like this are essential if we are to meet our targets for low-cost, zero-emission electricity generation using the UK’s abundant renewable energy resources.”
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