• 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.

  • 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.

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