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Climate Change & Solar Farms

Photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are similar to those found on pocket calculators, are now in widespread use in the UK and around the world to generate electricity on a large scale both in fields and on rooftops. They have also been commercially proven on large scale multi-megawatt generation plants since the 1990s. By January 2019 the UK had surpassed 13,000MW of solar PV capacity and the UK now regularly produces more than half of its electricity from renewable sources. In the last 10 years renewables have gone from novel to mainstream.

The panels are arranged in rows and are tilted to an angle appropriate for the location, between 15-35 degrees for a flat site in the UK. There is a space between the rows to take into account the shadow cast by each row. This can be between 5-10 metres (16-32 feet). This space between rows and the space under the panels can remain as pasture and would still be available for grazing of sheep.

The panels are cabled together and the cabling runs to a small building about 4 metres (13 feet) tall. There the electricity is converted from DC to AC and exported to the local grid. A supply of electricity to neighbouring buildings can be taken from this point to provide power from the solar site. The electricity is exported through the local distribution network with the cable to the nearest available point of the network typically being installed underground. Depending on the choice of panel technology and the natural slope of the site 1 MW of panels can be located on between 3-5 acres of land.

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