UK Converts Coal Plants Into Solar Cell Farms

By @ibtimesau on
On Jan. 28, 2014, NASA's IRIS witnessed its strongest solar flare since it launched in the summer of 2013.
On Jan. 28, 2014, NASA's IRIS witnessed its strongest solar flare since it launched in the summer of 2013. NASA/IRIS

The United Kingdom is giving green and renewable energy a bigger push by converting three former coal mining land into solar farms in the East Midlands.

The first site, the 32-hectare Welbeck Collierty, formerly owned by UK Coal, was shuttered in 2011. On this site, 44,160 solar panels would be mounted across 15 kilometres to produce 11.2 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power 3,450 houses and generate carbon savings of 5.11 tonnes yearly.

Anesco, a renewable energy consultancy, is building the property in cooperation with the owners of the land, the Harworth Estates, which owns around 30,000 hectares across 200 sites. The company is also the builder of a 30-acre, 5 MW solar farm in New Forest and another 40-acre, 10 MW solar farm at Owls Lodge.

After the Welbeck facility, Anesco will construct 5.74 MW installations at Gedling and Bilsthorpe, while there is also a plan to build a fourth one for Askern in South Yorkshire.

"Low carbon energy projects are an important part of Harworth Estates' commitment to the community and the environment, and our solar projects with Anesco will deliver both energy for thousands of new jobs for the region," Greenwisebusiness quoted Eddie Peat, director of Natural Resources at Harworth Estates.

As of June 21, UK's solar industry broke records for meeting 3.9 per cent of the country's electricity demand over 24 hours. A report by UK trade body Solar Trade Association said that another record broken was total installed solar capacity reached 4.7 gigawatts from 2.7 GW in July 2013.

Ray Noble, consultant at the UK National Solar Center explained the broken record to 80,000 more solar installations the past 12 months, bringing to 530,000 the total installation and generating 8 per cent of daytime electricity.

"We think that this is likely to double again within a year. There is nothing to stop it getting to 30-40 percent of UK electricity at this time of year," Noble added.

On Monday, Germany also broke its record when it reached a high 23.1 GW hours at noon or equivalent to 50.6 per cent of total electricity needs. Germany has 1.4 million photovoltaic systems installed.

The new installations across Europe bring the total installed capacity to more than 81 GW due to the addition of 10.9 GW in 2013.

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