Lark Energy has announced the grid connection of what it says is the UK’s largest solar farm at the site of a former World War II airfield in Leicestershire.
The 33MWp solar project at Wymeswold Airfield was conceived by Lark Energy and the landowner Prestwold Estates, and was funded and is owned by Hazel Capital.
Consisting of some 130,000 solar panels positioned on land between the old runways, and covering an area of c.150 acres, the project was built in less than 8 weeks and was connected and commissioned before changes in ROCs took place at the end of March 2013.
The airfield is currently being used for a mixture of agricultural, leisure and sporting uses. These include a driving experience operator, which uses a race track running directly through the solar farm development, an HGV training centre, a kite club, and various athletics and equestrian events. According to Lark Energy, none of the current users are affected by the operational solar farm, demonstrating how a solar farm can co-exist successfully with other land uses.
Lark Energy developed the site and worked closely with the Prestwold Estate, Charnwood Borough Council, the local parish councils and the local community in developing its plans and received planning permission at a council planning committee on 8th November 2012.
Hazel Capital financed the construction of the £35 million project and S.A.G. Solarstrom led the construction with the assistance of Lark Energy, Modus Utilities and Prestwold Farm and its local contractors. Western Power Distribution, the distribution network operator, was the main contractor in enabling the project to be connected to the electricity network.
The solar farm builds on Lark Energy’s track record of developing and constructing some 60MWp of solar projects over the last two years. The company says it will shortly start construction on a further 65MWp of consented projects.
Jonathan Selwyn, managing director of Lark Energy, said: “Lark Energy has been delighted to work with the Prestwold Estate and Hazel Capital in developing this unique project. As the largest solar farm in the UK, the project has not been without its challenges, both technical and weather related. It is a testament to the teamwork of the various parties involved in its development and delivery that it was completed and connected on time. We are committed to developing a large portfolio of solar projects in the UK over the coming years and see a bright future for this growing industry.”
Ben Guest, managing partner of Hazel Capital, added: “We are delighted to be involved in this large, first-of-its-kind project in the UK. We believe that larger industrial sites make great locations for solar projects going forward in the UK. I want to thank Edward Packe-Drury-Lowe, Lark Energy, SAG Solarstrom, Western Power Distribution and the Hazel Capital team for their huge effort in getting this project finished on time.”