UK’s largest solar farm has been sold

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Shotwick Solar Park in Deeside, just south of Liverpool has been sold by the original developers.  The park has been acquired by Foresight Group.

Shotwick Solar Park was originally built by WElink, Compton Group and British Solar Renewables.  The park was given the go ahead in 2016 and, staggeringly, was built in just 6 weeks.  The park has a peak capacity of approximately 72MW of electrical power output.  The site was originally chosen for a number of reasons.  Geographically, the location chosen is flat and free from any obstructions which may block out the sun.  The 220 acre site is situated adjacent to Deeside Industrial Park.  

When exploring the possible options for different renewable energies, solar quickly became the obvious option.  The site is situated very close to the Dee Estuary Special Protection Area and Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Reserve.  A special Habitat Management Plan was put in place to enhance hedgerows and build a number of nesting boxes for birds and bats.

Shotwick Solar Park, like many industrial solar farms, uses Photovoltaic cells.  Photovoltaic Cells are made up of thin Silicon cells, that are laminated and then covered in a protective glass.  There are normally around 60 of these cells wired in series on a single panel.  These panels have an expected life of around 30 years, the systems are designed and installed in such a way that it will be relatively easy to remove all hardware and return the land to an agricultural use.

The park was originally built to export electricity to the nearby business park, predominantly to the local Paper Mill owned by UPM.

Foresight Solar Fund have acquired the park, this takes their portfolio up to 17 installations.  These have a combined peak capacity in the region of 420MW. 

Foresight will continue to supply power to UPM’s Shotton Paper Mill as part of a direct power supply contract, enabling the mill to operate solely on green energy during daylight hours.  Thus enabling the mill to reduce its energy costs and saving a possible 22,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.  UPM is also the UK’s largest manufacturer of 100% recycled news print, so operation on green energy is important to their company beliefs. 

In a press release issued by Foresight, Ricardo Pineiro, Partner and Head of UK Solar, Foresight, commented:

“As the UK’s largest solar site the project sets an exciting new precedent in scale and flexibility for cost-efficient private wire arrangements and integration of Renewable generation in the UK industrial sector”.

The press release also went on to state that Foresight expected to announce further deals over the coming year.

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