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UK ‘first’ for solar power is a resounding success

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Manor Farm Solar Park Currently exceeding expectations in its performance, the country’s first owner occupied solar farm has recently been completed in an extremely fast track and highly successful project at Manor Farm, Somerset.

The solar farm will generate around 739 MWh of renewable electricity every year, enough for over 220 homes.

This was the first project for the Developer and Manor Farm landowner, who set up his own company, Solar Power Generation Ltd, with a view to building solar parks. He has plans for two further developments, with the Manor Farm scheme being the smallest of the three.

Cvil Contractors for the scheme were local firm GA Doble; Main Electrical Contractors were Ecofirst, and Screwfast Foundations were responsible for the erection of the farms solar panel tables.

Ecofirst provided a complete design and build package for the electrical works, starting with the production of a fully engineered system design, right through from the panels to the 11,000 volt grid connection.

“The project went amazingly well – considering the very short time which we had to plan and execute it. In addition the solar farm is currently performing even better than we predicted” said Mr Aidan Morris of Ecofirst.

The medium-sized farm is made up of 3,320 x LDK 230 W solar panels on 166 tables, each containing 26 panels, with the tables tilting the panels to face the sun. The farm is split into two halves – an eastern array and a western array, divided by a central avenue.

Initially the site contained a crop of oilseed rape ready for harvesting. Once this was done and the site cleared, than a large amount of cross site cabling was buried, feeding into a central plant room which was also constructed.Manor Farm Solar Park

The plant room contains two rooms – one for all the control equipment needed (such as control panels, meters and CCTV equipment) required to run the solar farm, and the other containing two KACO New Energy XP350-TL central inverters, which convert the DC electricity generated by the panels into AC electricity used by the grid.  The site also has its own dedicated transformer, located just outside the central building in a fenced off compound on the same plinth. The inverters output at 290 volts, which is taken up to 11,000 volts by the transformer.

Works were underway on site by June 2011 and the whole system was completed and generating by mid July 2011.

“Over 149 years lifeboats have launched on 581 emergency call outs from various stations around The Lizard, and saved 1,140 lives. We cover England’s most southerly point and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. More than 400 ships a day move up and down the channel and past Lizard Point and it’s important that we maintain key lifeboat stations along this stretch of coastline.”

Completion is expected in October 2011, followed by a one month fit out being undertaken by the RNLI.

Lizard Point has been a navigation marker for seafarers since prehistoric times and is mentioned as early as 250 BC. Countless ships and lives have been lost in its treacherous waters; but in the last 150 years, many have also been saved by successive Lizard lifeboats.

There have been RNLI lifeboats at The Lizard since 1859. From 1867 until 1963 there was also a lifeboat at Cadgwith, a couple of miles east along the coast.

The first lifeboat station was at the most southerly point, Polpeor, and in 1885 another station was built at nearby Church Cove, a mile or so to the east. That station closed in 1899 but the Polpeor station continued right through until 1961. Meanwhile a Cadgwith station was opened in 1867 and remained in action until 1963.

When the current boathouse at Kilcobben opened in 1961, the station became known as The Lizard Cadgwith Lifeboat Station. The name was officially changed in 1987 to its present The Lizard Lifeboat Station.

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