solar power’s environmental nightmare …

Not just a blight on the landscape, but the materials used create their own environmental hazards. It could easily have been gas power, using much less land and materials, like the one we have in Broome.  An idyll blighted by 18,000 solar panels: Seen from the sky, the reality of alternative energy

Row after row, this astonishing array of solar panels has completely engulfed an enormous 30-acre field in the heart of the countryside.

As this aerial photograph reveals, acres of beautiful Hampshire countryside have been blighted as a result, by 18,000 solar panels.  The solar farm covers a staggering 30 acres of land creating a massive eyesore in the centre of an otherwise picturesque view.

The solar farm, Cadland Estate at Fawley in Hampshire, covers a staggering 30 acres of land creating a massive eyesore in the centre of an otherwise picturesque view

Photographer Tim Woodcock, 54, captured the image from a helicopter while flying more than 1,000ft above the solar array near Fawley.

The energy saving farm on the Cadland Estate uses photo-voltaic panels to produce five megawatts of power.  It creates enough natural energy to supply 1,000 homes each day.

Solar farms like this one have sprung up in recent years as farmers collect up to £50,000 a year in green subsidies – this site is made up of 18,000 solar PV panels, mounted on nine kilometres of frames using 5,000 ground screws

‘Many of these alternative energy sources are manufactured abroad, in China, for example.  ‘It is very easy to say that a system is ‘green’ when all the energy and environmental damage and cost is made elsewhere.’

He added: ‘Obviously there is a lot of interest in alternative forms of energy. But the question remains how many of these will actually provide a real alternative to fossil fuels – so far, very few.  ‘No one seems to have the courage to tell the truth about energy alternatives.’

The solar panel farm, which is the size of 18 football pitches, is one of the largest of its kind in Britain and took just four weeks to construct. It is made of 18,000 solar PV panels, mounted on nine kilometres of frames using 5,000 ground screws.

Locals claim it is less of a blot on the landscape than wind farms, because the panels are completely surrounded by trees and greenery.

Energy efficiency solutions company Anesco designed and manages the farm on the land rented from the Cadland Estate.

The Estate is also used for farming wheat, maize and livestock. It is best known for supplying potato to leading food manufacturers such as Walkers crisps.

Energy generated by the solar PV system is fed back into the national grid under the Government’s Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme which makes payments for energy produced through renewable sources.

Dozens of large-scale solar farms like this have sprung up in recent years as farmers put up acres of them to rake in up to £50,000 a year in the green subsidies.

More than 100 new planning applications are currently in the system and work on a large-scale installation in Wiltshire began last month.

Another energy firm Kronos Solar has set out plans to build Britain’s largest solar farm, on agricultural land in Houghton, Hampshire.

Under the proposals, 225,456 panels would be laid out across an area the size of 100 football pitches. The scheme is intended to produce enough electricity for 31,500 people.

However, it will soon be far more difficult to set up a solar farm on greenfield land or areas of outstanding natural beauty it was revealed last month.

New planning guidance to be issued to local councils will state that ‘care should be taken to preserve heritage assets, including the impact of planning proposals on views important to their setting’.

This will not affect small scale solar installations which families can install on their roofs or farmhouses, or can be put up on industrial land.

Energy minister Greg Barker has insisted that although solar has a bright future in the UK it should not be in any place or at any price.  He said last month: ‘I want UK solar targeted on industrial roofs, homes and on brownfield sites not on our beautiful countryside.’

Campaigners near solar farms in rural beauty spots say they have become a sea of silicon slabs, which are allowed by councils to meet their renewable energy targets.

People who set up their own solar panels benefit from the feed-in tariff.  This has been slashed by around two-thirds over the past year after the Government set the level far too high.

However people who signed up in the early days in 2010-11 have their fee fixed for 25 years and continue to benefit.

SOURCE

The Broome Power Station, which keeps the power on when it’s dark!:

gas fired power station belching tonnes of CO2 from the stacks ...

gas fired power station belching tonnes of CO2 from the stacks …

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to kimenvhort@yahoo.com.au
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3 Responses to solar power’s environmental nightmare …

  1. Pingback: cluttering the environment … | pindanpost

  2. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 29 August 2013 | grumpydenier

  3. benfrommo says:

    Reblogged this on BenfromMO and commented:
    Good write up, thought I would pass this along.

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