Glen Peters is managing the solar farm for Western Solar Ltd, the owners and operators of the new park. Speaking to Premier Construction, he explained that the vision in building the park was “to create a solar park which would create an income-stream for the arts centre.” Profits generated from the solar farm will be put towards supporting the Oak Hall venue in Rhosygilwen, itself an eco-friendly building, with the aim of encouraging the arts to thrive as a means of regeneration for the rural community.
The site at Rhosygilwen is now home to ten thousand solar panels with a 1MW capacity, enough to power three hundred homes.
Bringing up-to-the-minute technology into a traditionally rural location, the word ‘futuristic’ springs to mind. The panels were procured from Californian manufacturers MiaSolé, who are pioneers in thin-film photovoltaic technology. Their copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) model is now established as one of the highest-efficiency, lowest-cost solar energy solutions, and proved ideal for this venture.
Western Solar have employed the very best from around the world, including Czech firm Fitcraft who were EPC Contractor and using Danish inverters, before combining all the prefabricated part on site.
But this project is also completely focused on the immediate community. Glen Peters explained how the solar park had been installed so as not to compromise on the rural heritage of the area:
“Planning required that it was all completely recyclable, so that the site can be returned back to its agricultural state. We didn’t use any concrete in the foundations: we used ground screws and aluminium frames. We prefabricated everything off-site and then everything was shipped to site and constructed here, and we used local labour for all the civils works.”
When the solar farm is eventually decommissioned, it will be a simple process to remove the panels, which are themselves recyclable, being made of glass, and return the original use. In fact, the land can still be used as grazing land, since the panels have been orientated to allow rain-water fall between the arrays, meaning that grass growth is only inhibited by around 15%.
Contrasting with its low impact environmental credentials, the solar park is set to have a high impact on the surrounding community, who have so far been highly supportive of the development. Rhosgyliwen has enjoyed a summer of arts celebrations, including the 2011 festival over the August bank holiday weekend at which the theme was ‘art from recycled resources’, and residents are looking forward to many more years of cultural and economic growth.