Solarcentury and Primrose Solar aiming to set new environmental standards for building new Hampshire solar farm

Shared vision on holistic approach to construction of one of UK’s largest solar farms

Primrose Solar has selected leading solar company Solarcentury to build a solar farm on the Southwick Estate in Fareham, Portsmouth that will produce enough clean solar electricity to power 11,000 average-sized homes. Both companies are aligned in pursuing a holistic approach to the construction and operation of the 48 MWp solar farm, with environmental considerations incorporated throughout the planning, construction and operational lifetime of the solar farm.

Solarcentury and Primrose Solar have a shared ambition for Southwick solar farm to set the highest environmental standards ever for ground-mounted solar. So in addition to Solarcentury’s usual adherence to the STA 10 commitments, solar industry best practice for solar farms, Solarcentury will be piloting an environmentally-stringent onsite waste and energy management programme, while Primrose Solar takes an industry-leading approach to biodiversity and ecological enhancements at the site.

Primrose is working with Wychwood Biodiversity, co-authors of the BRE National Solar Centre guidelines on biodiversity in solar farms, to carry out a full ecological survey and create a habitat management plan for the site, which is Grade 4 agricultural land. Wildflowers will be sown using native seed mix to help reverse declining pollinator species such as bees and butterflies whose habitats have been decimated by intensive farming practices in recent decades. In autumn and winter, sheep will be grazed among the panels, so the land will be used for food production as well as producing clean solar electricity.

Frans van den Heuvel, CEO Solarcentury said: “Our responsible approach to building solar farms, together with Primrose Solar’s continued investment over the lifetime of the project, is really going to make Southwick solar farm an environmentally robust site. Our waste and energy management programme will see a number of new initiatives employed during the build that we’re looking to roll out across all of our future sites.”

Examples of the new initiatives include: the use of solar-powered and biodiesel generators during construction; recycling over the whole site including food and canteen waste; installation of composting permanent toilet facilities; car sharing scheme; hot and cold food facilities on site to prevent lunchtime vehicle traffic offsite; and the installation of CCTV running on hydrogen fuel cells.

Giles Clark, CEO Primrose Solar said: “We are excited about setting a new environmental standard for building Southwick solar farm, working together with Solarcentury, a perfect choice for the build because of our shared values.

And this is just the start. We’re in this for the long term. For the next 25 years, Primrose wants to be a ‘good neighbour’: supporting the local community and working with the landowner to demonstrate responsible stewardship of the land for the lifetime of the solar farm.”

Primrose Solar also works closely with local schools near its solar farms to educate young people about the benefits of renewable energy. Outdoor learning sessions and tours of its solar farms help to bring solar energy to life outside the classroom, explaining to children how solar farms work, why renewable energy is important and the opportunity they give for biodiversity improvements.

Building work commences this month.