Solar site gets the go-ahead

Planners at GVA in Cardiff are advising Elgin Energy EsCo Ltd on a number of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installations in Wales. Planning has now been granted (11 October 2013) by Carmarthenshire County Council for their Clawdd Ddu project.

The 70 acre site, at Clawdd Du farm, Tycroes, will have a rated capacity of 12MWp, generating in the region of 12,000,000kWh of electricity per annum – the equivalent to the average annual UK electricity consumption for 3,600 houses.

Elgin Energy is leasing the land from the landowner. Elgin will install and maintain the 48,000 panels for a period of 25 years. The energy generated will be distributed back to the National Grid.

Complying fully with the best practice guidelines set out by the Solar Trade Association, the site at Clawdd Du was selected for the minimal landscape and visual impact the installation will have on its surroundings. The land will remain in use for grazing, and areas of meadow will be established to encourage biodiversity. The southern slopes will help to maximise the efficiency of the scheme in terms of energy generation due to the ability to reduce the spacing between the arrays.

The Solar Trade Association has ten commitments which its members fully support in applications such as this one by Elgin Energy at Clawdd Du farm. They include the use of land which is non-agricultural, or of lower agricultural quality; sensitivity to the local landscape; development of a land management plan; and full engagement with the local community both in advance of the planning application and following installation.

GVA’s Cardiff office prepared and submitted the planning application on behalf of Elgin Energy. Ben Lewis of GVA’s Planning team comments, “Wales is one of the best locations for solar energy in the UK; longer hours of daylight than locations further north mean that a greater concentration of panels are feasible on selected sites. The use of Renewable Obligation Certificates gives energy providers a way to meet Government targets for renewable power provision. As a result we are seeing an increasing number of applications being prepared.

“The installation at Clawdd Du will contribute greatly to both local and national ambitions for increasing renewable energy generation.”

Planning Policy Wales confirms that Wales has potential capacity for 1.0 GW of local electricity generation to be delivered by 2015/17.

GVA has a growing reputation within the energy sector. Its team in Cardiff is currently working on a number of commercial scale solar PV sites across Wales. Elgin Energy is seeking sites of 25 acres upwards across the UK.