How does Solar Energy work?
Solar panels work by using photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Certain materials naturally release electrons when they are exposed to light, and these electrons can then be harnessed to produce an electric current.
Photovoltaic cells, also called solar cells, are made from the same semi-conductor materials used in computer chips. All solar cells have at least two layers with a positive and negative charge. The electric field across the junction between the two layers causes electricity to flow when the semi-conductor absorbs photons of light and releases electrons.
Made with silicon
Electrical contacts attached to the front and back of the cell enable it to become part of an electrical circuit. Over 98% of solar cells are made with silicon, an element most commonly found in sand (the second most abundant material in the earth’s crust). These cells are quite brittle, so several cells are wired together and enclosed in a rugged, protective casing called a module or panel. A group of these modules is called an array.
EPC Solutions builds solar farms on land. The solar farms typically generate around 28 MWp. A typical 28MWp solar farm generates enough clean energy to power approximately 8,200 homes - with a CO2 saving of around 3000 g/kWh (based on savings made by domestic consumers*) or put another way, a CO2 saving of 3,000,000 tonnes over the 25 year lifetime.
28 MWp to power 8,200 homes
A typical 18MWp solar farm covers approximately 168 acres (69 hectares) of land. At most, only 1/3 of the total area is covered by solar panels. Solar panels are typically 1.6m by 1m in size and are mounted between 1m and 2.65m above the ground (max. height 3m - depending on the angle/frame design), providing clearance for plants and other habitats to remain.
*Note: this calculation is as a result of generation only and is based on equivalent CO2 emissions from a gas-fired power plant; these numbers would differ for coal as a coal-fired plant would emit approximately 4830g of CO2 per kWh compared to 1880g from a gas-fired plant.
Proposed solar farms would:
- Have minimal physical impact (especially when compared with other renewable technologies)
- Support the region in delivering on their renewable energy aspirations
- Raise awareness of solar technology and it’s benefits
- Utilise local resources where possible
- Contribute to the local economy through, for example, payment of local business rates
Is Your Land Suitable for Solar?
We are always looking for suitable sites to develop solar farms. If you are looking to rent your land please get in touch with us! A site for a solar farm should have following characteristics:
- Space - the site should be at least 25 acres
- Sunlight - the site is well located geographically for solar gain (south facing), is relatively flat and is free of any buildings or landscape features that could cause overshadowing
- Grid connection - ideally within sight of a power line or substation to allow connection to the grid
- Access - suitable for articulated lorries for construction and maintenance
- Minimal environmental constraints - the site is free of any landscape, ecological, archaeological or conservation designations