2022: A year spent trying to build a solar farm The year is almost over, so I thought I would recap. For those unaware, as a side-project (yes its a big side project), I started an energy company called Positech Energy, and decided to build a solar farm. This is an epic tale of frustration and expense, that seems to be endless,, but here is what happened during 2022 for this project! The first blog update of the year was this one, where I talked about the solar panels. I ordered them way in advance, before we actually had planning permission, because I was hoping to slap them in during summer of this year and start generating actual income. This proved to be both a mistake, and a genius move, depending on your POV. This was during a time of climate emergency, a global supply chain collapse, and pandemic shutdowns, so it was obvious that lead times on panels would be long, so I ordered them anyway. That means I ended up with over 3,000 410 watt QCells solar panels. They did show up! But by the time we got them… we had no planning permission because it got refused. Oh dear… I initially decided to forget the whole enterprise at that point, and was quite depressed about it. I tried phoning round wholesalers to sell my panels before they even hit the UK but basically got nowhere. I think people can tell you need to shift them, and offered me a pretty bad price. The company that is managing the project for me did offer to buy them off me at the price I paid, as and when they needed more panels. This was good, and put a floor under my losses, but the trouble is all 70 tons of panels needed storing… To date I have paid out £15,000 in storage costs for these solar panels. Yup, I PAID £15,000 to keep SOLAR panels in a warehouse during summer. However annoying that sounds to you, it sounds worse to me, but there was no other option. Its still costing me about £600 a week to do this… Luckily, the price of those panels went up, and I am currently still ahead of the game on this. Assuming they get taken out of storage on schedule (hopefully April), I wont have actually lost out anything except the transport costs for the panels to the site. (Originally that was included, but they needed to be left at a port warehouse instead. So what else happened? Well hey we WON planning permission in October, which was a very stressful process, not to mention expensive. In fact the whole process has so far cost me £541,568.94, including buying the panels themselves. Yes, this is a stupid amount of money. The rough breakdown is: £50,000 grid connection deposit £424,000 solar panels £6,795 for pull-out tests to pick the ground mount system £3,750 in rent to the farmer for the field so far ..and the rest is planning application and legal bullshit. Of course the good news is that once you have planning permission…you have it. We cannot get blocked now. The ONLY things standing between us and total conquest of the galaxy is the grid connection and the actual build-out of the site. That means waiting for decent weather, because its in a muddy field near the English/Welsh border, and frankly taking dozens of trucks up a single track lane on very hilly ground when its raining would be a nightmare. Luckily, the UK is so situated that solar output at this time of year is farcically low anyway, so its actually no massive loss. So where are we left? We are hopefully about a week away from a final, committed quote for the build-out of the farm, and then at that point, the developer will buy the ground mount kit, and order the inverters and other electrical stuff, like the substation. Apparently the first thing that will happen will be putting up a ‘deer fence’ around the whole site as security. Eventually we will have either real or fake CCTV cameras, depending what insurers say. The aim is to get building in April-ish time. We have mentioned MANY TIMES to the DNO that will put in our grid connection that we really, really want to get connected this year, in Q1 or Q2 if at all possible. These is no free-market for this, and its basically a state-granted private monopoly that does what it likes, so we just have to grin and put up with this. Also, the cost of the grid connection is likely to go up even more, which is insane. For the love of god, can we nationalize this bit of the grid, and just pay the army to go round the country doing grid upgrades as an urgent matter of national security? Anyway… a mixed year because we DID get planning permission, but there has not been any real progress on the physical build. I’ll feel a bit more optimistic once I actually see people on site putting up a deer fence. I’ll fill much more optimistic when we see the mounting kit installed and work starts on the grid connection. Hopefully next years update will be full of amazing progress!