Author Archives: JM

Solar panels at heart of huge new nature park plan in Lincolnshire

A chicken farm could be transformed into a 239-acre nature park that will be  the first of its type in Lincolnshire.

Picnic spots, an education area and a visitor centre are all part of plans  for Boiling Wells Farm, near Sleaford.

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    Part of the new nature park  plans

Developers also want to enrich wildlife habitats, add a variety of native  plants, trees and create nature trails.

The features would surround rows of solar panels put up  in seven fields – an  idea which has never been seen in the county before.

EU Panel Penalties to Hurt China

The European Union is poised to penalize imports of Chinese solar products, a move that would increase Europe’s cost for most photovoltaic panels an estimated 45 percent overnight.

While officials from the U.S., China and the EU have engaged in preliminary talks to settle a dispute over trade in solar-energy products, according to people familiar with the situation, the EU yesterday said it will stick to its June 6 deadline to decide whether to impose import duties. The EU proposal for tariffs would hurt manufacturers such as China’s Trina Solar Ltd and raise costs to build power plants in Europe, the world’s largest market for solar products and one largely supplied by Chinese manufacturers.

Duties will trigger “an increase in prices that is a major concern for Chinese producers as well as developers in the region, who may find that many solar projects are no longer viable,” according to Jenny Chase, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s chief solar analyst. “The proposed anti-dumping tariffs are higher than the industry expected.”

The penalties would target at least 20 billion euros ($26 billion) of goods from China for alleged dumping, or selling below cost. That won’t be enough to revive a withering solar manufacturing industry in Europe, according to Ash Sharma, a senior director of solar at research firm IHS Inc.

Solar Tariffs for May revealed

Official figures for November, December and January show that 50 MW of domestic PV (0-10 kW), less than 9 MW of small-medium projects (10-50 kW), plus nearly 41 MW in the large installation band were registered in this past quarter – with a drop in the smaller size classes being made up by the largest projects.

Cow shed with solar PV on roofFollowing previous quarterly installations of 164 MW and 98 MW, the latest total of 100 megawatts suggests the rooftop PV market is still running at about half-speed and picking up only gradually.

Once again, activity in all these bands fell below the government thresholds for the default 3.5% rate of quarterly tariff degression, which are set at around 800 MW of new capacity per year – so there should be no reductions in tariffs this summer. But since the 50kW-5MW band has already skipped degression twice, this band will be cut by 3.5% automatically in May; for example, the rate for schemes over 250 kW will fall from 7.1p/kWh to 6.85p. Note, however, that the index-linking of all previous tariffs (including the export tariff) will result in them being adjusted upwards by RPI (3.1%), effective 1st April 2013.

Wymeswold £35m solar farm goes live

A £35m solar farm in Leicestershire, claimed to be the UK’s biggest, has been connected to the National Grid. More than 130,000 panels have been placed on 150 acres of land at Wymeswold Airfield, near Loughborough. Developer Lark Energy said the farm, built in less than 8 weeks, was expected to produce emission-free energy for the next 25 years. The company said it chose the site as it was relatively secluded and was not overlooked by nearby properties.
The project received planning approval from Charnwood Borough Council in November 2012.
Managing director of Lark Energy, Jonathan Selwyn, said: “All you can hear is the sound of birdsong, there is no noise coming from the solar farm itself. “There is no smoke, no emissions, it is just absorbing the sunlight and turning it into clean power and will be doing that for the next 25 years.”
The airfield also has a race track and an HGV training centre, which have been unaffected by the development.

New Site

In an ambitious model being put forward by renewable energy firm MS Power Projects (MSPP), farmland 1,200m north of Henham – an area around the same size as more than 30 football pitches – would have 40,000 frame-mounted solar panels placed in it.

Larry Mark, development director at MSPP, said: “We like our farms to have as little environmental impact as possible and try to conceal them by use of natural barriers such as hedgerows. Because of this, we have had very little adverse reactions to our previous installations.

“Very few residents will be able to see the farm from their homes, but if there isn’t enough natural screening we will consult with the council to improve things, including possibly planting more hedgerows and trees.”

The solar farm will consist of a series of solar panels erected on frames in rows, up to a maximum height of 2.5 metres.

Once installed, the farm would supply 10MW of energy that will be tapped directly into the National Grid via an underground cable and will supply enough energy to power 2,500 homes.