In 2012 we saw plans for a Solar Farm at Lovedean and this was for an installation on reasonable farmland. it was also on a slope and would be visible from local properties. This generated some community debate and at the time I blogged clear views on this.
Solar power is subsidised by a feed in tariff which is funded by taxes on ‘dirty energy’. this allows a technology that would otherwise be expensive and small scale to reach a larger market and bulk production. In the last years the cost to make the panels has reduced, and the feed in tariff on larger solar farms has been cut to reflect this. essentially the subsidy funds the market and new technology.
My preference is to use this technology on the roofs of buildings. They already exist and do not take up farmland or open space. We do need though for the installations to be a little more aesthetically pleasing than the aluminium frames glass enclosed panels that sit awkwardly on tiled roofing.
A better place I believe is on the roof structures of B+Q, ASDA, IKEA and any industrial estate. Not only do these have large surface areas, but there is also an immediate power demand from the same building, cutting out much of the cabling and infrastructure needed to make this work.
At the moment the commercially available solar panels are separate rigid panels which bolt on, but manufacturers are looking at how the panels can come in a roll on sheet which is then stuck onto an existing or new roofs. This would make retrofitting to older buildings a simpler option where they were not designed to take the weight of heavier frames panels.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss has said large-scale solar farms are “a blight on the landscape” and confirmed plans to cut a taxpayer subsidy to farmers and landowners for the schemes. this may be a ray of hope on this issue and she is also keen to focus efforts to install Solar Power on existing roofs.
At the moment consultations are underway for a solar farm off Havant Road to the south of the Land East Of Horndean plans. this project is being explored by a very new business and if there is a change in policy on solar farm funding may well be in time to affect this.
Thank you to Laon Hulme for forwarding me the link to this BBC article.