STEAG Solar Energy Solutions GmbH (SENS), Würzburg/Germany, a subsidiary of Essen-based energy company STEAG GmbH and a specialist for photovoltaic (PV) projects, will be building a solar farm with output of 50 MWp in the eastern English county of Norfolk in the months ahead (Figure 1). The permission to build the facility on previously agricultural farmland near the town of King’s Lynn has just recently been granted. In addition to the solar plant, the project includes a coupled storage system for temporary storage of up to 15 MWh of green energy.
SENS UK, the British national subsidiary of SENS, is cooperating in this project with Namene Solar Light Company Ltd, an internationally-based provider of solar technology and services. Together, the partners will construct the solar park on farmland that was previously used for intensive farming. “The project will therefore not only provide climate-friendly energy, but will also give the soil on which the plant is built the chance to regenerate,” says Christian Kleinhans, who is responsible for the project at SENS.
With a calculated yield of 55 GWh/a, the new solar farm will be able to supply around 14,700 British households with zero-emission green electricity in the future, avoiding around 11,700 t/a in CO2 emissions. “Thanks to the coupled electricity storage system, solar energy can be temporarily stored during periods of weaker demand and made available at a later time when demand is high or when there is less sunlight,” Kleinhans explains. The entire plant is designed for a service life of 40 years.
It is not purely the energy yield that sets the project apart, but also its comprehensive sustainability approach. In cooperation with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, a management plan is being developed that will provide for additional ecological measures on and around the site. “One of the plans is to plant a hedge about 1 km long around the solar farm, providing habitat for a wide variety of animal and plant species,” Kleinhans continues, highlighting that the PV system would thus also contribute to increasing local biodiversity. “Flower strips with wildflowers are also part of the ecological concept for the site,” he adds.
For SENS, the new UK project is only the prelude to further activities. Together with its project partner Namene Solar, the company intends to add a further 200 MW of solar generating capacity to the UK grid over the coming two years.
SENS has been operating on the British market for many years now and has already carried out a number of large-scale projects as O&M provider. This renders the solar experts predestined for making a relevant contribution to achieving the British government’s climate goals, which include a 78 % cut in CO2 emissions by 2035 compared with 1990s levels. This goal can only be achieved with a further significant expansion of solar energy – a task which, according to opinion polls, meets the approval of around 80 % of Britons. (STEAG/Si.)