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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    Anyone know the current land area taken up by solar farms in the UK ?
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015
    Not enough.

    Last year we had about 5.2 MWp installed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_the_United_Kingdom
    If they use 250W 1m by 1.6m modules, that will be 33,280 m^2
    As they need a bit of a gap between them, let us add an extra 25%.
    So 41,600 m^2
    There are 10,000 m^2 in a hectare, so 41.6 hectares.

    I think, check my sums.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015
    5228 MWp (so about 1000 times more).
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015 edited
    Yes, I have just had a look at the wiki page again and it seems so.

    So about 42,000 hectares.

    My eyesight is failing, I can't distinguish the difference between a full stop and a comma, you she see my Python code. It never works.

    UK land area is 24.361 million hectares
    So about 0.17% of our land area.
    thanks . Is that just for farmland or total install ?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015 edited
    41,600 m² is 4.16 hectares (not 41.6).

    So, with the extra x 1000 it'd be 4,200 hectares.

    >>> 5.2e9 / 250 * 1.6 * 1.25 / 10000

    41.6 km².

    That's, of course, for all PV, not just solar farms.


    says there were 35 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Britain in 2013. If they were all the size of a VW Golf (roughly 4.2 m x 1.7 m https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Golf) then they'd have an area of just under 250 km².

    >>> 35e6 * 4.2 * 1.7 / 1e6

    Just for context.
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015
    Thanks for the corrections, I can't see hardly anything tonight :sad:
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015 edited

    Generally, PV farms are put on unproductive land. They don't pay as well as crops.
    And if you believe the rumours, they are generally put on land that costs money to maintain.
    A lot of the south and south west facing land around here, that also slopes in the right direction is very poor (grade 3 and 4).
    Guess it gets washed away.

    Here are the DECC figures.

    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015

    Says as of 2015Q3:

    FiT 3,445 MW
    RO 3,905 MW
    Other 902 MW

    The RO probably also includes warehouse roofs and the like but is probably a better guess at the upper bound on solar farms.
    • CommentAuthorbillt
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2015
    Posted By: SteamyTeaJames
    Generally, PV farms are put on unproductive land. They don't pay as well as crops.
    And if you believe the rumours, they are generally put on land that costs money to maintain.

    That isn't credible. Round here they've just built a solar farm on some nice flat agricultural land, which is probably grade one. They're not going to do that if it's making them a loss.

    A quick bit of googling finds that, in 2009, average farm income was about £220 per hectare for cereals or £300 per hectare for general cropping. Ground rents for solar farms would seem to be £1500-£2500 per hectare. http://www.nfuonline.com/solarpv_nfubriefing4/

    Of course, producing crops involves a fair amount of expenditure, so the profit is a lot less than the income. Not much expenditure involved if you lease land for a solar farm.

    Combine a solar farm with a nice wood chip / log drying plant to harvest those insane RHI payments and you're laughing all the way to the bank.
    • CommentAuthorringi
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2015
    Pigs and sheep can also often be kept in the field with the solar farm.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2015
    In my area there are several new distribution warehouses being built. One or two are huge and are advertised as over a 1 million square feet. Not one has PV on the roof.
    • CommentAuthorMikel
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2015
    Agricultural land is graded 1-5, with grade 1 being the best. However, grade 3 is sub-divided into 3a and 3b, with 3a being classified as good and 3b as poor. Unfortunately the land maps do not show this sub-classification.

    Policy here is that PV should go on 3b land and not 3a land.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeDec 9th 2015
    Do land maps show the other grades? Where can we find them?
    • CommentAuthorbillt
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2015

    The Magic interactive mapping system ought to have them but it seems woefully inadequate.

    The land that I thought might be grade 1 is actually grade 3 - there seems to be very little grade 1 & 2 land in the UK, most of it in the east.
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