Tag Archives: Solar

New solar farm to be built at former landfill site in the West Midlands

The Environment Agency is continuing to carry out its regulation of a historic, non-hazardous landfill site in Wednesfield, where construction of a new solar farm is currently underway.

City of Wolverhampton Council, the current operator of the closed Bowmans Harbour landfill, is enabling The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust to develop the site to generate significant levels of renewable energy to power the nearby New Cross Hospital, in a step towards its goal of becoming net carbon zero by 2040.

As part of the planning process, City of Wolverhampton Council is required to manage the landfill in its closed state by retaining the existing landfill monitoring infrastructure and continuing to provide access for the Environment Agency to carry out its regulation of the site.

The Environment Agency has also highlighted to the council of the need to avoid damage to the cap of the landfill to prevent any issues going forward.

The site, which was formerly mined for coal, was operated as a landfill until it was closed and capped in 1996-1997. Since then, the Environment Agency has continued to regulate the site, ensuring monitoring and maintenance of the site is managed in accordance with the site’s environmental permit.

The solar farm, which at 11 hectares, is the size of around 22 football pitches and is due to be operational by summer this year, even though the site will not be fully complete by this time. It is estimated that the solar energy will power the hospital for three quarters of the year – around 288 days of self-generated renewable energy.

Joe Craddock, Environment Officer at the Environment Agency said:

It’s fantastic to see a former landfill being used in this way to provide a renewable energy source for the hospital.

We have taken the opportunity of working with the council to not only maintain but also improve the infrastructure of the closed landfill. We have required City of Wolverhampton Council to review and improve the leachate and gas wells on the site and make updates to the gas flare.*

We will continue to monitor and manage the site as it changes its use into a new source of renewable energy.

The improvements to the landfill infrastructure are important as they reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses being emitted from the site.

Background information

The solar farm is located approximately 1 mile to the north-east of Wolverhampton city centre and approximately 0.5 mile south of Wednesfield village centre.

The solar farm is planned to produce 6.9 megawatts-peak per annum which will be fed direct to New Cross Hospital. New Cross Hospital will be the first hospital in England to fully utilise and operate its own facility providing renewable energy.

The repository at Bowmans Harbour is the subject of an existing environmental permit issued to City of Wolverhampton Council by the Environment Agency in respect of environmental monitoring.

The Environment Agency regulates the environmental permits held by a landfill operator, including a closed landfill.  Within the environmental permits there are conditions controlling the operations that the site can carry out, which cover emission limits and the location and frequency of environmental monitoring.

The conditions of the environmental permit are designed to prevent pollution and minimise impacts to the environment and human health.  Appropriate measures are required to be taken by the holder of the environmental permit through the application of best practice.

There is a long-term monitoring contract in place with City of Wolverhampton Council to meet the conditions of the environmental permit.

Less potent greenhouse gasses are emitted if the landfill gas is burnt as opposed to being vented* so reducing the volume of gas being vented on the site will have a positive effect on the environment in terms of the greenhouse gases being emitted by the site.

  • When the gas is vented, a higher percentage of methane is released to the atmosphere which has a greater greenhouse effect. Burning the landfill gas reduces the volume of more potent greenhouse gases being released.

A 2500 mile long cable could bring solar power from Morocco to UK

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will be a new electricity generation facility entirely powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility. Located in Morocco’s renewable energy rich region of Guelmim Oued Noun, it will cover an approximate area of 1,500km2 and will be connected exclusively to Great Britain via 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cables.

This “first of a kind” project will generate 10.5GW of zero carbon electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6GW of reliable energy for an average of 20+ hours a day. This is enough to provide low-cost, clean power to over 7 million British homes by 2030. Once complete, the project will be capable of supplying 8 percent of Great Britain’s electricity needs.

Alongside the consistent output from its solar panels and wind turbines, an onsite 20GWh/5GW battery facility provide sufficient storage to reliably deliver each and every day, a dedicated, near-constant source of flexible and predictable clean energy for Britain, designed to complement the renewable energy already generated across the UK.

When domestic renewable energy generation in the United Kingdom drops due to low winds and short periods of sun, the project will harvest the benefits of long hours of sun in Morocco alongside the consistency of its convection Trade Winds, to provide a firm but flexible source of zero-carbon electricity.

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will provide “renewable energy that acts like baseload power”.

Four cables, each 3,800km long form the twin 1.8GW HVDC subsea cable systems that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in Great Britain, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.

Agreement has been reached with National Grid for two 1.8GW connections at Alverdiscott in Devon. Voltage source convertor stations will enable the Xlinks project to secure high value balancing contracts with National Grid, and a HVDC Technical Feasibility study has been completed to validate reliability and cost.

The transmission system will use High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cables to send the power from Morocco to Britain. HVDC technology is now well tried and tested as reliable and more cost competitive for a large volume of electron transfer across longer distances, than the High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) technology typically used for transmission systems within countries.

Converter stations will be used to change the HVAC power at the generation site in Morocco to HVDC, which is then sent through the subsea cable with very low losses before another converter station in Britain changes the HVDC power back to HVAC, ready to be injected into the British transmission network. While the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project subsea cable is significantly longer than existing interconnectors, the HVDC technology is the same proven technology used for connecting Britain and other European countries, or the technology proposed for the interconnector between Morocco and Portugal.

Thousands of new solar panels are to be installed in UK prisons

Thousands more solar panels are being fitted to prisons across England to help cut carbon emissions and save taxpayers’ money, Prisons Minister Alex Chalk has announced.

The installations are expected to cut more than 1,300 tonnes of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere and provide 20% of each prison’s electricity – a significant saving as the gworks towards its ambitious net-zero target and a move that will save around £800,000 a year.

In total over 16,000 new ground mounted panels will be switched on across the prison estate, with HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke and Wayland lighting the way in the next few months and work ongoing to power the remaining 16 from Spring next year.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Alex Chalk, said:

As we build back safer and greener from the pandemic, our prisons are playing their part in the Government’s ambitious environmental plans.

Alongside our wider sustainable action across the estate, including new all-electric prisons, we will ensure our jails are good for the pocket and the planet.

This unprecedented expansion of solar energy follows the announcement in May that the government’s four new prisons – a vital building block in the drive to create 10,000 new modern prisons places that cut crime – will operate as zero-carbon in the future. 

The prisons will use an all-electric design that eliminates the need for gas boilers and will in time produce net-zero emissions.

Solar panels, alongside heat pumps and more efficient lighting systems will reduce energy demand by half and cut carbon emissions by at least 85% compared to prisons already under construction.

The environmentally friendly drive accompanies wider government action to build back greener with more than £12 billion in green investment to help achieve its net zero commitment.

This will include hydrogen and carbon capture technology, greener homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, flood defences and backing offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.

Notes to editors

  • Ground mounted solar panels have recently been installed at HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke, and Wayland.
  • Panels are now being installed at HMPs Eastwood Park, Ford, Guys Marsh, Haverigg, Isle of Wight, Leyhill, Lindholme and Moorland, Littlehey, New Hall, and Onley, Stocken, Werrington, Whatton and Whitemoor.
  • Work is ongoing to facilitate panels at HMPs Bure and Full Sutton.
  • The project will cost around £12 million, to be recouped through annual savings. Combined, the prisons will generate more than 7000kW of capacity per year.
  • The first of the four new prisons will be built next to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire and work is underway to investigate locations for a further prison in the North-West of England and two in the South-East.
  • The MOJ is seeking to achieve the gold-standard ‘outstanding’ rating in Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) for its four new prisons. BREEAM is an independent scheme which assesses the sustainability of infrastructure projects.
  • The UK is a global leader on tackling climate change which is why we’ve committed to reach net zero by 2050.