The plans to build Britain’s largest solar farm has got the green light from Swindon Council’s planning committee. The project is a joint venture between Swindon Commercial Services Limited and the Science Museum Group. The site chosen to build the farm is a former airfield at Wroughton, Wiltshire and is owned by the science museum.
So far, the Museum has been utilising this space to store 30,000 objects from the reserve national collections. The new solar farm will be developed over 170 acres of unused land on the old airfield. The solar farm will have a capacity of 40MW and is being designed to generate enough renewable electricity that can power up to 12,000 average UK homes.
The reason for choosing this particular site is down to its capacity and its convenient location. Matt Moore, Head of Wroughton Site, Science Museum Group, said: “Solar farms should be sited appropriately and sensitively – this is a great location, its semi-industrial land, close to a major town. It will provide a secure and reliable income to help the Science Museum continue our work conserving the national collections and improving conditions on site.”
The local community is also being offered a chance to become a stakeholder in this project. A minimum investment of £50 will give the local residents an ownership stake in the project. The Museum and Swindon Commercial Services have set this £40,000 a year community benefit fund for the next 30 years so that it can be allocated by the local community for local projects. This is the largest solar community benefit scheme in the UK that will give the residents of the area an opportunity to invest directly in the solar farm.
James Owen, Commercial Director at Swindon Commercial Services Ltd, said: “This project has had outstanding support from the local community throughout, so we are extremely pleased that Swindon Council has authorised its approval. Residents of Wroughton will benefit from a community fund of £40,000 a year and it will help put Swindon on the map as a greener place to live and work.”
The development of a solar farm of this kind is the way to generate sustainable and renewable energy. Taking a step forward in this direction will only encourage other local councils to follow suit and come up with similar projects to sustain the local community and to resolve the increasing energy crisis.
The UK has some of the best resources to produce electricity using renewable sources, such as offshore. The UK offshore wind, wave and tidal resources are capable of producing six times more energy than what is currently being consumed by the British public.
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has produced an energy demand and supply model, which projects that by 2050, around 80% of UK energy will be supplied by new non-hydro renewable sources, such as wind and solar. It will soon be feasible to generate 100% of electricity by utilising these renewable sources of energy.
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