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Britain’s new solar farm to sell energy to the grid, without government subsidy

Times 26th Sept 2017,In rural Bedfordshire today, Claire Perry, the climate change minister,
will open the first solar farm in Britain to sell power to the grid without
a direct subsidy.

It will perform this trick thanks partly to banks of
batteries that enable it to transmit electricity even when the sun is not
shining, and partly to the plummeting price of both batteries and solar
panels in recent years. Clayhill Farm is a landmark achievement. It will
provide power for 2,500 homes without pumping out any pollution, making any
noise or killing any birds. It will come onstream less than a month after
an auction for wholesale energy contracts in which wind power operators
underbid even gas-fired energy producers for the first time.

And it was built in 12 weeks flat. A renewable energy revolution is gathering steam,
so to speak, but Clayhill Farm poses a troubling question for government
and the rest of the British solar industry.

Why is it, so far, alone? There are three reasons.

First, one of the biggest obstacles to setting up a new
solar farm is securing a connection to the grid, and Clayhill has been able
to piggyback on a neighbouring facility whose connection is already in

Second, few sites in Britain are so lucky, because solar power
installation slumped when subsidies were withdrawn two years ago while
still being available for wind.

Thirdly, Britain is not very sunny. The
Clayhill project shows that solar power has a future here despite
everything. Moreover, battery and solar panel prices are expected to keep
falling thanks to a global glut created by China. This oversupply is a
result of mass Chinese production initially to meet subsidised German
demand in the 1990s, and later to meet domestic Chinese demand. Beijing now
dreams of building and controlling a global solar-powered grid. If Britain
wants its own, the time to build is now.


September 30, 2017 - Posted by | renewable, UK

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