Get started, planning your solar energy farm project with Powersystems
Speak with one of our high voltage electrical engineering Solar Energy Specialists today.
Speak with one of our high voltage electrical engineering Solar Energy Specialists today.
Solar farms can be connected to the transmission network or the distribution network, requiring liaison with either National Grid or one of the main Distribution Network Operators (DNO). These can be challenging organisations to engage with and who operate in another world of technical jargon and complexity.
Powersystems your high voltage specialist electrical engineering company has 46 years of experience in working with the National Grid and all the DNO’s across the UK.
The development of solar assets is a complex and technical task which takes time. It is not wise to rush a first-time development where no prior experience exists. Like all projects a programme of work needs to be drawn up and this will have key stages, such as concept, feasibility, planning, grid, design, procurement, construction and so on.
Solar farms are made up of rows of ground mounted solar panels, which are on a frame fixed within the ground. Simply they are large scale applications of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems also known as grid-scale or utility scale solar PV plants typically covering areas from 1 acre to 100 plus acres.
The civil and electrical works are referred to as the Balance of Plant (BoP). The electrical works are designed and installed by a high voltage specialist contractor like Powersystems.
As an Independent Connection Provider (ICP), Powersystems engineers are highly experienced in the design, specification, installation and commissioning of solar energy farms, this includes switchgear, transformers, cable infrastructure, protection and control and earthing systems , enabling the complete installation to be carried out.
Solar farm infrastructure consists of the below points to be considered in your solar energy farm project.
While solar projects still have quite high start-up costs, they are somewhat offset by much lower ongoing costs. Solar farms have minimal demands in terms of operation and maintenance and there are no waste products to deal with either. After the initial investment, there shouldn’t be a need for any large operating costs to keep a solar farm running.
For every 5 MW of capacity installed, a solar farm will typically produce enough energy to power more than 1,350 homes while saving 1,200 tonnes of carbon annually. This is based on an average annual consumption of 3,600 kWh of electricity per home.
The biggest benefit to solar farms is their role in meeting the National Grid’s renewable energy needs. They provide green electricity and reduce reliance on fossil fuels which produce harmful greenhouse gases. Solar technology is a proven source of safe, locally produced, and sustainable power.
Why your solar energy project is important?
Solar power generated in the UK reduces the need to import electricity from abroad. This creates energy jobs in the UK and makes our energy supply and pricing more secure. As advised by STV ‘the Industry body Solar Energy Scotland released new figures showing that if its target of six gigawatts capacity of new solar power can be achieved by 2030, that the number of new jobs that could be create would be 8,500.’
Installed solar cells also provides the UK with greater grid stability.
The UK has a legally binding target to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We believe that solar will play a greater part in helping the UK achieve this target. As part of this, the adoption of the Sixth Carbon Budget put into law the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world, committing the country to an interim goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035
Analysis from the Climate Change Committee and other independent bodies shows that the UK will need to deploy at least 40 GW of solar by 2030 if it is to achieve a net zero economy by 2050. Doing so will require installed solar capacity to triple over the next decade, with an average annual installation rate of 2.6 GW.
How is solar energy produced?
Solar energy is created by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun. Fusion occurs when protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide in the sun’s core and fuse to create a helium atom. This process, known as a PP (proton-proton) chain reaction, emits an enormous amount of energy. Solar energy is constantly flowing away from the sun and throughout the solar system. Solar energy warms the Earth, causes wind and weather, and sustains plant and animal life.
Solar energy is any type of energy generated by the sun. Our fascinating history of the sun dates back as far as the 7th century B.C. and throughout time we have been using the sun’s energy in ways to improve human life.
Many technologies can harvest solar energy directly for use in homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. Some solar energy technologies include photovoltaic cells and panels, concentrated solar energy, and solar architecture.
There are different ways of capturing solar radiation and converting it into usable energy. The methods use either active solar energy or passive solar energy.
Active solar technologies use electrical or mechanical devices to actively convert solar energy into another form of energy, most often heat or electricity. Passive solar technologies do not use any external devices. Instead, they take advantage of the local climate to heat structures during the winter and reflect heat during the summer.
What are Photovoltaics?
Photovoltaics is a form of active solar technology that was discovered in 1839 by 19-year-old French physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel. Becquerel discovered that when he placed silver-chloride in an acidic solution and exposed it to sunlight, the platinum electrodes attached to it generated an electric current. This process of generating electricity directly from solar radiation is called the photovoltaic effect, or photovoltaics.
Today, photovoltaics is probably the most familiar way to harness solar energy. Photovoltaic arrays usually involve solar panels, a collection of dozens or even hundreds of solar cells.
Each solar cell contains a semiconductor, usually made of silicon. When the semiconductor absorbs sunlight, it knocks electrons loose. An electrical field directs these loose electrons into an electric current, flowing in one direction. Metal contacts at the top and bottom of a solar cell direct that current to an external object. The external object can be as small as a solar-powered calculator or as large as a power station.
Photovoltaics was first widely used on spacecraft. Many satellites, including the International Space Station (ISS), feature wide, reflective “wings” of solar panels. The ISS has two solar array wings, each using about 33,000 solar cells.
Photovoltaic power stations have been built all over the world. The largest stations are in the United States, India, and China. These power stations emit hundreds of megawatts of electricity, used to supply homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals.
Photovoltaic technology can also be installed on a smaller scale. Solar panels and cells can be fixed to the roofs or exterior walls of buildings, supplying electricity for the structure. They can be placed along roads to light motorways, solar cells are small enough to power even smaller devices, such as calculators, parking meters, waste compactors, and water pumps.
How do PV solar panels produce electricity?
PV solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (‘DC’) electricity through a process known as the photovoltaic effect. Whilst the technology may be considered as being modern the photovoltaic effect was first discovered in the 1830’s and photovoltaic cells were first produced in the 1950’s. The majority of PV solar panels currently deployed in solar parks around the world consists of a number (typically 60 or 72) of photovoltaic cells which are connected in series on the underside of a sheet of glass and held in place by an aluminium frame.
Each photovoltaic cell is a sandwich made up of two slices of a semi-conducting material. The most common semi-conducting material used in PV solar panels is silicon. To generate the electricity an electric field needs to be established and this is created in the manufacturing process where phosphorous is added to the top layer of silicon (creating a negative charge) and boron is added to the bottom layer (creating a positive charge).
When direct or indirect (light that has passed through clouds) sunlight hits the silicon molecules from both layers, an electron is knocked loose. These electrons are attracted to the top layer of silicon (the phosphorus layer) and repelled from the bottom layer of silicon (the boron layer). Metallic strips located along the top silicon layer collect the electrons. The metallic strips collectively join up with the metallic strips in all the other cells in the PV solar panel at the junction box located on the rear of the PV solar panel where the power cable that carries the electricity produced by the PV solar panel exits the junction box and connects to the inverter to convert the electricity from DC to alternating current (‘AC’) so that it can be used in homes and businesses.
How the power generated by PV solar panels reaches the electricity network and what happens to that power?
Humans have turned to the sun for warmth and energy for millennia. Many ancient cultures revered the sun as the most powerful element in their world. But did you know that many ancient people also harnessed the warmth and power of the sun? Ancient Egyptians are the first people known to use solar energy on a large scale to heat their homes. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Native Americans, and Chinese also used similar techniques to help regulate the temperature in their homes.
No lesser scholar than Socrates taught classes on the art of passive solar architecture—how to build houses and other buildings to best take advantage of the sun’s light and energy.
The announced changes in planning, CfD auctions and potential low-cost finance options could significantly accelerate solar deployment, creating thousands of jobs, cutting energy bills and making Britain more energy secure.
Developments in solar continued throughout the 1990s, and emerging global economies began to grow their share in renewables (especially wind and solar PV) during this time.
From the 2000s, solar power starts to become accessible for everyone. The renewable energy sector is booming, and the following decade sees ground-breaking advancements and the expansion in solar PV tech and their installations respectively.
And finally in 2022 Space-based solar power was detailed as a priority ‘disruptive technology’ in the UK government’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. A recent study has found that space-based solar power is both technically feasible and affordable with a competitive levelised cost of electricity and that its development could bring substantial economic benefits for the country. Based on the study the UK government anticipates the development of a demonstrator with a capacity of around 40MW in a low Earth orbit by 2031 and delivery of a full-scale operational system by 2040. The cost is estimated at around £16 billion
A major advantage to using solar energy is that it is a renewable resource. We will have a steady, limitless supply of sunlight for another 5 billion years. In one hour, the Earth’s atmosphere receives enough sunlight to power the electricity needs of every human being on Earth for a year.
The solar energy we have known to come and love as a renewable energy has encouraged vast commercialisation of solar power and has inspired a level of domestic and industrial usage in today’s world, to sustain livelihoods, all our Earth.
While solar energy is abundant, it represents a tiny fraction of the world’s current energy mix. But this is changing rapidly and is being driven by global action to improve energy access and supply security, and to mitigate climate change. Around the world, countries and companies are investing in solar generation capacity on an unprecedented scale, and, as a consequence, costs continue to fall and technologies improve.
The government’s British Energy Security Strategy which builds on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point plan and Net Zero Strategy sets out how Great Britain will accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, whilst supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term – which could see 95% of electricity by 2030 being low carbon.
The expectations of a five-fold increase in solar in the UK by 2035, shows that it now shares the same level of ambition as the UK solar industry. The announced changes in planning, CfD auctions and potential low-cost finance options could significantly accelerate solar deployment, creating thousands of jobs, cutting energy bills and making Britain more energy secure.
Read the latest solar farm case studies from Powersystems on solar energy projects
Powersystems were responsible for the design, installation, testing and commissioning of the electrical infrastructure associated with the construction of the 5 MW solar park, Kernow
Solar Farm, St Mawgan near to Newquay Cornwall airport.
The Kernow Solar park project aimed to generate renewable electricity equivalent to almost 5 per cent of the Council’s carbon footprint.