FAQs

  • COVID19: Easing out of lockdown

    As lockdown eases across England and Wales we can resume our communications with you. This will still not be face to face, but we will be uploading more information about Elwy Solar Energy Farm at this website as we move to the formal pre-planning application consultation stage.

    We will also be writing to members of the community again sharing details about these plans and providing opportunities to give feedback.

    Look out for further information about our ‘online community hall’ as well as details of live chat sessions in September this year. And don’t forget you can still contact us by email, by telephone or in writing at any time using the contact details below.

    Email us: elwysolar@solarcentury.com
    Write to us: Elwy Solar, Solarcentury, 90 Union Street, London, SE1 0NW
    Call us: 0207 5491299

  • COVID19: How will you communicate with us?

    Following Solarcentury’s decision to postpone the Local Information Days at Bodelwyddan Community Centre and at St. Asaph Cricket Club in early March due to Coronavirus, we have put the information material online.

    The outline plans and all that would have been presented is available on this website under Planning documents. This includes the proposed layout of the scheme, the location map and a feedback form which residents and local businesses can complete online. Paper copies can be made available to anyone without internet access by calling 0207 549 1299 and that telephone number can be used to ask questions about the solar energy farm too.

    This project website will be the main hub for information about Elwy solar energy farm.

    We are also happy to receive emails, letters and phone calls:
    Email us: elwysolar@solarcentury.com
    Write to us: Elwy Solar, Solarcentury, 90 Union Street, London, SE1 0NW
    Call us: 0207 5491299

  • COVID19: Have you stopped work on the solar energy farm proposal?

    No, but the Coronavirus outbreak has meant we will delay things. We’re now hoping to submit a planning application for the solar energy farm in November 2020, with the formal pre-planning application consultation starting in August (subject to the restrictions in place at that time).

    Until then, Solarcentury will continue to do the preparatory work associated with this project including the landscape and ecological assessments, grid connection work, and fine tuning of the design.

    This March we’ve also submitted the administrative ‘notice to submit’ document to the Planning Inspectorate, which means Solarcentury has 12 months within which to submit the formal planning application.

  • COVID19: What are your staff and contractors doing?

    Anybody carrying out preparatory work on this project is following the latest Government guidelines. Most of our team are currently working from home and those who can’t will be following social distancing guidelines.

    We have been advised that ecologists and environmental professionals have received dispensation from DEFRA to continue with outdoor work, including ecological surveying and supervision, as long as they follow Public Health England guidelines. Work that does not require travel, such as desk-based surveys and report writing, will be completed from home where possible.

  • COVID19: How will you communicate with us during the formal pre-application consultation stage?

    In much the same way as we planned previously, but probably without face to face communications. We’ll continue to:

    • Write to local residents and businesses about the proposal
    • Ask for feedback and views
    • Put all the project details online for people to see and read
    • Speak to local stakeholders, organisations and groups

    Feedback can be submitted via the online survey (see Have your say at the bottom of this page), by letter, email or phone call. We will collate the responses and write a report which is submitted with the planning application.

    The Coronavirus situation is making us rethink how we present information and engage with local communities and other stakeholders in the period between now and submitting the planning application in November. We are working on a plan and hope to be able to share this publicly soon.

    Questions about the scheme can still be sent via letter, email and by telephone – members of our team continue to be here to help.

  • How does a solar energy farm work?

    Solar energy farms are ground mounted solar installations that range in size from 50 kilowatts to thousands of kilowatts. The solar panels are mounted onto a framing system which is installed on the ground. The solar panels use PV technology to convert daylight into electricity. It’s the same technology that powers your calculator.

    We plan to include batteries at Elwy Solar, which allows excess solar electricity to be stored on site and used when the grid needs more power, helping the National Grid better manage their network.

  • Do solar panels work when it is cloudy?

    Solar panels produce energy from daylight rather than sunlight, so they continue to produce electricity even when the weather is overcast. With the addition of batteries on site, any electricity produced during the day can be stored and used at any time whenever it’s needed; day or night.

  • Batteries on site: Storing energy and keeping the site safe

    We will be using a battery energy storage system as part of the Elwy solar project which will:

    • enable excess solar electricity to be stored when demand is low;
    • supply extra power when the demand for electricity is high; and
    • help the National Grid maintain the network’s 50Hz frequency.

    Our current designs have the batteries stored within 25 40ft containers in a single compound near the southern boundary of the site.  They will be securely located within their own fenced compound.

    Lithium batteries come in a variety of forms. We plan to use Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries which are a different form of battery to those used in personal electronic devices and are easier to manage.

    The batteries will be handled under their own safety management plan to ensure that all relevant standards and best practice guidance are covered. This is will be relevant at the time of the system’s design and throughout their operational life, with respect to how they are operated and maintained.

  • Does the solar project need government subsidies?

    The project does not rely on any government subsidies. It secures its revenue by trading its electricity either on the market or under contract to suppliers, and by securing contracts to provide electricity management services to the grid.

  • I have heard there is glare from the solar panels?

    There can be some glint and glare from the panels, but we design and locate them so this is negligible, taking into account the location of properties and the local landscape. Studies show that reflection from vegetation and bare soil can be more significant than from similar areas of solar.

  • Will you be removing trees and hedgerows?

    Removing such features goes against the environmental improvements we hope to achieve at the site. We intend to work with the existing land and leave gaps for trees, ponds and hedgerows that are already there with buffers where advised by our ecology partners. We will be undertaking a detailed tree survey to identify the condition of the trees on site and where a tree is not considered to be in a good or safe condition it may be removed.

  • Who decides if the solar energy farm can be built there?

    Because of the size of the Elwy solar energy farm, in Wales it is classed as a Development of National Significance (DNS). Planning applications for DNS projects are reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate in Cardiff instead of the local planning authority in Denbighshire. The Planning Inspectorate will assess the planning application and consult with a number of relevant parties and organisations (which will include Denbighshire Council) to seek their views and to ensure that the proposed scheme meets planning requirements. The Planning Inspectorate will make a recommendation to the Welsh Government and the Minister will make the final decision. If planning permission is given, then we can build the site.

  • What is the process of building a solar energy farm?

    There are a number of phases. We start with a site feasibility assessment which has already identified the Elwy Solar site as a suitable place for a solar farm. We then move into a consultation and surveying phase where we gather information and opinions on the proposal. Among other things, we assess the environmental, visual and ecological impact of the site and consult with the local community, the council and relevant public authorities. This information finalises the design and associated reports that are submitted with a planning application. The Planning Inspectorate will then follow their processes to determine the application, which concludes with permission either being granted or declined.

    If permission is granted, there is then a period of roughly three to six months where the construction contracts are finalised before work on the site is ready to start.

  • How long will it take to build?

    Construction of a solar energy farm typically takes three to eight months. In the first six weeks most of the deliveries take place. After the parts have been delivered to site there are fewer vehicle movements as the site is built and then made operational.

  • Is a solar energy farm noisy?

    There is some noise generated on site during the construction stage but this is only for a short duration. Once built, there is low level noise from the cabins housing the associated equipment. From the edge of the site, any noise produced will be less than other background noise such as passing traffic, wind and other local sounds.

  • What benefit is it to us?

    There are a number of benefits to having a solar energy farm.

    Where possible, we try to offer local jobs and supply contracts when we get to the construction, operation and maintenance phase of running our sites. Local suppliers can register their interest in the ‘Have your say’ section of this website.

    The project will also contribute business rates to the local council and as part of our ongoing commitment to communities, we offer community grants to support local project and causes.

    More broadly we are providing a renewable energy source for future generations, maintaining supply and adding to Wales’ energy security.

    Once built, solar energy farms also provide great opportunities for micro-habitats. The variety of dry and wet and shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can support a wide variety of wildlife.

  • Is agricultural land taken out of use?

    Yes for the term of the lease but any land classed as agricultural that hosts a solar energy farm maintains its classification throughout the course of the lease. The agricultural land can be reverted back to agricultural use within a short space of time at the end of the lease period, as the scheme can be completely cleared away restoring the site to its former condition. Sheep farming, which currently goes on at the site, can continue alongside the solar farm, with the sheep grazing around the panels. Often farmers and landowners welcome the income from the lease and the ability to rest the land.

  • Is the site in a flood plain?

    Some of the land where the solar energy farm is proposed is designated as flood plain. Flooding can be managed within a solar farm and it should be designed so that there is no impact on flooding that occurs elsewhere. If we are going to build on the flood plain, we will ensure the site and our equipment is adequately positioned and protected. As part of our site assessments we are undertaking a flood survey and consulting the appropriate agencies to discuss the use of land in the flood zone.

Have your say

We encourage your feedback as early in the planning stage as possible to ensure we have considered all points of view. There are a number of ways you can contact us if you’d like to give feedback on the plans seen in the Planning documents area:

If you are a local supplier or installer of equipment that the project may need, please register your details using the survey here.

*At Solarcentury we’re committed to respecting your privacy and to complying with UK data protection and privacy laws. Our privacy policy here explains how we collect, use, share and protect personal information. Before completing the Survey Monkey questionnaire, please ensure you’ve read, understood and accept the privacy policy.

Chris Banks

90 Union Street
London
SE1 0NW
United Kingdom

elwysolar@solarcentury.com

Journalist enquiries: +44 (0)20 3128 8788