Conergy completes solar park in race against time

The UK’s largest solar park has been completed ahead of cuts to the feed-in tariff (FIT) for large PV projects.

The Conergy Group 5MW free-field park, located in Hawton, Nottinghamshire, covers an area of 14.6 hectares and was completed within six weeks.

A total of 21,600 Conergy PowerPlus modules on 40km of Conergy SolarLinea mounting systems were installed. According to the group, the modules will produce 4,860MWh of clean electricity — enough to supply 1,300 homes.

Conergy’s Robert Goss admitted the project was a race against time: ‘The deadline was imposed by the recent review of the feed-in tariff incentive payments for large-scale solar projects that are to be slashed by 72 per cent.

‘All parties showed great determination to support this exciting project, which will be one of a very few large solar projects installed in 2011.’

From 1 August 2011, solar installations larger than 50kW will find their feed-in tariff slashed after evidence showed that there could already be 169MW of large-scale solar capacity in the planning system.

Such projects could potentially soak up the subsidy that would otherwise go to smaller renewable schemes or other technologies, such as wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion.

However, a number of experts in the industry believe the cuts to the FIT are too steep and that large PV projects that miss the deadline will become financially unviable.

The changes were defended by Greg Barker, climate change minister, who said: ‘These proposals aim to rebalance the scheme and put a stop to the threat of larger-scale solar soaking up the cash. The FIT scheme was never designed to be a profit generator for big business and financier.’