At the time of connection, ‘Marston Solar Farm’ was one of the largest utility scale solar farms to be constructed in the UK before 1st August 2011. Aptly named and located in the village of Marston, Lincolnshire, this 4.5 Megawatt solar PV plant was connected to the local distribution network in 2011.
Westfield Farm rents less than 1.5% (30 acres) of its total farm land to Lightsource Renewable Energy, the UK’s largest solar energy generator. In terms of scale, 16,113 solar PV panels are mounted in single rows across the land to locally generate clean, green energy during daylight hours. The land used is Grade 3 agricultural land which was not particularly suited to the farm’s main business of growing potatoes and horticultural crops. Although the height of the panels allows for grazing, the landowners opted to leave the site as a haven for wild birds, small mammals and wild flowers. The panels are very well screened from view by the planting of additional hedgerows which itself creates a further biodiversity gain.
The total amount of green energy produced by the solar plant to date currently stands at 5,991,185 kW h (kilowatt hours) – equivalent to powering 1,327 households. This method of green energy generation has also resulted in CO2 savings of 3,097,443kg which equates to taking 688 large cars off the road for a whole year.
Nick Boyle, Lightsource CEO, comments, “These are impressive figures and we are delighted to be able to report them back to the residents of Marston who have given their support to the scheme. It is heartening to see a community care so much about the environment and I hope they regard it as their own solar farm”
“Interestingly, last October the results of a YouGov poll* showed that 72 per cent of respondents thought the UK should be looking to use more solar power, so the enthusiasm we are seeing in Marston appears to be indicative of a general feeling throughout the UK.” Boyle continues.
Westfield Farm itself has a long history of looking after the environment by taking part in schemes such as the former Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the more recent Entry Level Stewardship Scheme. These aim to encourage landowners to conserve English landscapes, their wildlife and history for future generations to enjoy. The farm is run with a strong emphasis on wildlife and keeps a constant watch on its carbon footprint. Its owners have always been very interested in green energy and after making further investigations, they decided solar power was the way forward for them.
Any farmer or landowner with a site of at least 6 acres wishing to discuss its suitability as a solar farm should contact 0333 200 0755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information and free educational resource on solar power and climate change can also be found at www.lightsource-re.co.uk.