Firm scales back solar farm plans as the grid can't cope

The Oxford Times: Michael Tyce, from the CPRE, visits the solar farm near Barnard Gate, West Oxfordshire Michael Tyce, from the CPRE, visits the solar farm near Barnard Gate, West Oxfordshire

AN energy firm has said it is not planning any more solar farms in Oxfordshire because the national electricity grid cannot cope.

Green Energy UK Direct currently has two projects it is pursuing in the county, one in Culham and one near Bicester.

But operations manager Neil Banks said the company would now look to North England for future investments after dropping plans for five other sites in Oxfordshire.

Mr Banks said: “The feedback we are getting from the distribution network operator (DNO), SSE, is that the network is getting quite full.

“Many of the lines are filled up and so it is very hard to get good amounts of exports.

“The network needs major upgrades. That will take a lot of time and a lot of money. So we will instead look north of Oxfordshire in the future, where the better connections are.”

George Paton manages Landmead Farm near East Hanney, one of the UK’s largest solar farms.

He told the Oxford Mail: “In terms of big future renewable developments, there is very little that can now happen in Oxfordshire apart from what is already in the pipeline.”

The news was welcomed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which recently said a spate of applications in the county for solar farms amounted to the “industrialisation” of farmland.

CPRE member Michael Tyce said: “In our view it is the worst possible use of agricultural land.”

Green Energy UK Direct will this week submit the first of two planning applications for solar farms in the county.

It will detail the firm’s proposals for a site covering 40 acres of land, in Brook Farm, off Ploughley Road, Lower Arncott.

Mr Banks said the company would aim to have that considered and approved before the Government changes a solar electricity subsidy scheme for projects built prior to March 2015.

The second application, expected to be lodged in the summer, will be for a 10MW installation covering 50 acres of land in High Lodge Farm, Culham.

Scottish Electric Power Distribution spokeswoman Morven Smith said there was not a problem with capacity in Oxfordshire’s electricity distribution network.

But she said: “It may be that there are some reinforcements required in specific areas but it depends on the capacity the developer is looking for and spare capacity on that part of the network.

“It could be a small job like upgrading a transformer, or adding additional equipment at a substation or potentially a larger upgrade of new overhead power lines or sub stations being constructed. We have, over the last 12 months, been receiving a significant number of applications for solar farms and have been working with developers on that.

  • Our top stories:

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:44pm Wed 4 Jun 14

King Joke says...

I have to point out that SSE's network is not 'the national electricity grid' - it is a regional distribution network.

Whether or not this is the right place for a solar generator (I won't get into that one!!) the DNOs are going to have to do more work to turn their networks into 'smart grids' to support intermittent generation.
I have to point out that SSE's network is not 'the national electricity grid' - it is a regional distribution network. Whether or not this is the right place for a solar generator (I won't get into that one!!) the DNOs are going to have to do more work to turn their networks into 'smart grids' to support intermittent generation. King Joke
  • Score: 1

6:31pm Wed 4 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

This just means that notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE will now be fearful of improvements to electricity grid infrastructure...
This just means that notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE will now be fearful of improvements to electricity grid infrastructure... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

9:34am Thu 5 Jun 14

hot foot says...

CPRE seem to have their unqualified noses in everything.Surly you could find someone who knows what they are talking about
CPRE seem to have their unqualified noses in everything.Surly you could find someone who knows what they are talking about hot foot
  • Score: 0

9:41am Thu 5 Jun 14

King Joke says...

Can't CPRE get some sense of perspective? I wouldn't want to stand on Uffington Hill and see solar panels as far as the eye could see, but a patchwork of a one every dozen fields or so wouldn't be so bad, no worse than the odd field having oilseed rape in it, or something green, or ploughed mud etc. How about a simple rule that they must be more than 0.5 km apart and 1 km sq max?
Can't CPRE get some sense of perspective? I wouldn't want to stand on Uffington Hill and see solar panels as far as the eye could see, but a patchwork of a one every dozen fields or so wouldn't be so bad, no worse than the odd field having oilseed rape in it, or something green, or ploughed mud etc. How about a simple rule that they must be more than 0.5 km apart and 1 km sq max? King Joke
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree