Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Solar farm: 2nd site visit (July 2023)

A week after the first visit to the solar farm, we decided to head back. Its a LONG drive, but a lot had changed, and the next week looks like bad weather so I thought I’d grab the opportunity to take another look.

There is now a LOT of metal in the field! When you see a completed solar farm, it looks like just rows and rows of glass and plastic panels, but what is mostly hidden from you is the amount of metal support needed to keep it all in place. As I’ve mentioned before, you need to be sure that everything stays firmly in the ground for 25 years minimum, so there are no half measures.

With the frames in place now for most of one of the 3 zones, we get a true feel for how large each of the groups of panels (called ‘tables’) are. They are much bigger than the small array I have in my garden :D. I can just about touch the top of the main support posts if I’m on tip-toes.

Now that the frames are in, you get a much clearer picture of how undulating the land is. This looks like a few long rows of panels, but its actually not the full width. We wont be able to finish any of the rows of panels until the overhead high voltage cable has been buried, because you cant be piling tall metal posts in that close to an 11,000 volt cable. Hopefully we get an actual date for that very soon!

In a perfect world, the field for this farm would be completely flat, so the layout of the panels would be very uniform, with one inverter mounted at the end of each row, and each group of DC cables from the tables running along the top, at head height (so we don’t electrocute any sheep!) and they would plug right into the end-row inverters. Then a single trench would run along all the inverters taking their AC cables underground (armored, with sand laid on top, then topsoil, so totally buried and safe) to the substation.

Because this field is NOT flat, you need to wire the tables in groups that will get the same level of sunshine at all times. because of the hill, at sunset some panels in one region might be getting more sun than others. This means that each row is NOT a single inverter, but varied clumps of panels are wired to each inverter. That means SOME cabling in that gap between the rows you see above. That will be DC cabling, but will also need to be buried safely underground. Its an annoying extra complication.

I was very pleased with the progress in the 7 days between site visits. I’m still very nervous about the timing of getting the substation built. We cannot do this until the earthing is buried, and we cannot bury earthing until the design is complete. We HAVE now paid the connection cost to the grid in full (ouch), but still have neither confirmation that its received, or a set date for the earthing. I’ll have to try chasing that up soon, which I hate doing.

Solar farm building is 45% planning permission, 45% chasing people to do stuff, and 10% paperwork and spreadsheets. It’s a horribly stressful business, and its unusual for it to fall ultimately on an individual who owns a company. I suspect most people making the financial decisions for solar farms are accountants at big multinationals, for whom its not *their money*. I do not recommend this path as easy money or a quiet life!

In 4 days time panels will start to arrive and get fitted, which will make the site look much more finished and like a real solar farm. We already have the inverters (now back to Solis instead of Huawei. Don’t ask) ready to fit. BTW the inverters are BIG. I had in my mind that they MUST be big, but when you see pictures they look like domestic ones, but no. Each pair is on a pallet and the size of a chest freezer.

I’ll probably not be at the site next week, but will go back again after that to view the panels and inverters for myself. I like visiting the site and would go there twice a week if it was local, but 8 hours of driving in a day is a bit much, even if I can do about 80% of that on autopilot in my car. How anybody drives a manual car with gears and without cruise control or autopilot for that long each day is beyond me! (I used to do that in the past, but in my twenties).

BTW, just in case you think I am nuts for doing this, and that I should just relax instead, here is a reminder why I am doing it.

One thought on

  1. Nice to see the progress. And I appreciate it a lot that those who have money, do things like this to help everyone. I sincerely appreciate this. Yes we can. :D Keep up the good work. ^^

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