Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Consultancy backs wind/solar drive

Environmental and engineering consultancy Wardell Armstrong is throwing its weight behind joint wind/solar developments.
The company has unveiled a new service that aims to “optimise the full capacity of expensive grid connections by incorporating ground-mounted solar panels on the same site as wind turbines”.
It involves a feasibility assessment, site design, a financial assessment of potential returns, and (if positive) the handling of planning proposal submissions.
Turbines typically generate only around 35% of their capacity because of variations in wind strength even though grid connections are sized at maximum capacity, Wardell Armstrong said.
The cost of these connections can be “a very significant portion of development capital cost”. Wind developers are moreover seeing availability become constrained in some areas.
“It makes perfect commercial sense to think about adding solar generation to existing or proposed wind farms,” said Wardell Armstrong renewable planning specialist Neil Sutherland.
“Bolting on solar effectively takes advantage of a free grid connection. It can make good use of wasted capacity, improve the value of the site, increase the profitability of the project and enhance overall sustainability.
“It also makes solar viable right across the UK, including up to the north of Scotland. Any planning or community resistance may well also be lower on an existing site, since ground-mounted panels are much smaller in terms of visual envelope and impact.”
Wardell Armstrong has been involved in securing permission and managing discharge conditions for more than 500MW of solar installations since 2009 including the UK’s first consented solar park near Truro in Cornwall.