Westmill presented Blue Energy with a seemingly impossible challenge - to construct the UK’s largest source of solar power in just 8 weeks. The timings were absolutely critical to ensure that the project met Ofgem’s FIT deadline. But we did it - the solar farm began harvesting sunlight at 4pm on 19th July 2011.
Due diligence was completed in 3 weeks and then just a 2 week lead-in to the construction project. The massive efforts of all our partners and contractors ensured that we were on-budget and we met all our key time deadlines.
Westmill is now the location of Britain’s first combined green energy zone, with power coming from the adjoining solar and wind farms located in the Wiltshire countryside. The farms will now supply the equivalent of 4000+ homes with electricity for at least the next 25 years.
Power from the 23,000 solar panels - more than any other UK solar farm installation - began supplying electricity on July 20th, with the photovoltaic plates providing an output of nearly 5MWp of energy.
Our partners in this project were fundamental to its success. Adam Twine, the farmer, provided the initial impetus for the scheme. Westmill is a great example of how land can be harnessed for renewable energy and ensure the provision of more secure and reliable energy for the UK.
Low Carbon Solar handled the planning and grid application processes. Abakus, our EPC Contractor, installed state-of-the-art AuO solar panels manufactured in Europe. These quality panels were selected to ensure that the required 4.986 MWp of energy was provided at maximum efficiency. Blue Energy are great believers in the value that comes with only using the best quality components.
Our focus on “true collaboration” at Blue Energy ensured that we took the lead with Abakus and facilitated the use of a UK sub-contracting team. This included JT Hawkes, providing electrical installations and Jackson Civil Engineering as civil contractor, with wider responsibility in the role of Principal Contractor.
Because of the timescales, we had to directly source and procure key components, which included switchgear and housing, DNO station, RMU and transformers.
A huge challenge for the team was the need to shut down the adjacent wind farm for as little time as possible in order to make the new connection for the solar farm. It was closed for less than 36 hours. Full G59 testing for the farm passed first time whilst 100% of solar park modules were generating electricity.
PROJECT: Westmill Farm
LOCATION: Watchfield, Wiltshire
ENERGY TYPE: Solar PV
PROJECT TYPE: Joint Venture
OUTPUT: 5 MWp
COMPLETED: July 2011