Longfield Solar Farm: A Giant Step Towards Renewable Energy in the UK

The UK government has approved the construction of the country’s largest solar farm near Chelmsford, Essex. The project, called Longfield Solar Farm, will cover about 380 hectares (940 acres) of farmland and generate up to 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power around 60,000 homes. The solar farm will also include solar battery storage and National Grid connection infrastructure.

Longfield Chelmsford Essex Map

Longfield Solar Farm is a major initiative by EDF Renewables, a leading renewable energy company in the UK. The project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which means it has been assessed by the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. The project aims to support the UK’s transition to low carbon energy generation and help achieve its net zero emissions target by 2050.

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK already has enough solar power installed to power four million homes, and this new development of Longfield, the UK’s largest capacity consented solar farm, will help ensure we fully harness the power of the sun and boost our energy security.”

“With a capacity to power tens of thousands of homes, Longfield [Solar Farm] will help deliver cheaper energy for consumers and businesses and create long-term, high-quality jobs of the future.”

The project has faced some opposition from local campaigners who are concerned about the loss of high-quality agricultural land and the impact on biodiversity. However, the Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Paul Morrison said: “The Planning Inspectorate has now examined more than 100 Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects since the Planning Act 2008 process was introduced, ensuring local communities have had the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them.”

“Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in this examination. The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to all local views and the evidence gathered during the Examination before making its recommendation to the Secretary of State.”

The project developers have also promised to implement a landscape and ecology management plan that would provide ecological mitigation and enhancement measures to achieve a net gain in biodiversity.

Ben Fawcett, Head of Solar at EDF Renewables UK, said: “I am delighted that, after months of careful consideration, the Government has given planning consent for Longfield Solar Farm. It is a significant endorsement of our proposals.”

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our consultation and the public examination. The feedback we received from residents, local authorities, environmental groups and many others has helped shape our plans. We will continue to work closely with them to make sure we minimise the impact of construction and maximise the huge opportunities for the area.”

Longfield Solar Farm in Chelmsford, Essex is expected to start construction in 2024 and be fully operational by 2028. It will be the largest solar farm in the UK and one of the largest solar farms in Europe and a significant milestone for renewable energy in the UK.

Do you have land for a Solar Farm?

The UK is now home to hundreds of solar farms that are transforming the way we produce and consume energy. They are not only providing green, renewable and locally sourced power to millions of homes and businesses, but also creating jobs, supporting communities and enhancing biodiversity. Solar farms are a win-win solution for the environment and the economy. Do you have land in the UK that could be suitable for a solar farm? If so, we would love to hear from you! We are looking for landowners who share our vision of powering the UK on solar energy. Together, we can make a difference, by building more solar farms that benefit everyone in not only the short-term, but also in the long-term.

Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Farms

Are UK solar farms profitable?

The average ROI (return on investment) for a solar farm in the UK is between 10 to 20%. Meaning, most solar farms pay off their installation costs within the first five to ten years. After that they are pretty much printing free money. As long as they are well maintained and offer consistent, reliable energy production.

Is solar a threat to UK farmland?

The biggest threat to British food production and security is not solar PV generation on moderate quality agricultural land, but is in fact climate change . As the 2022 summer heatwave has shown, the UK is poorly equipped to deal with the extremes wrought by a changing climate.

Where is the largest solar farm in UK?

At 72.2MWp, Shotwick Solar Park is the largest solar park in the UK and the largest private wire connection in the UK. Located in Deeside, Flintshire, the solar park supports the UPM paper manufacturing plant which operates 24/7 and manufactures 100% recycled paper.

How many acres do you need for a solar farm UK?

Based on the average annual consumption of a household, for every 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installed, a solar farm will power approximately 1,500 homes for a year. Approximately 25 acres of land is required for every 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installation.

How much does it cost to build a 1 acre solar farm UK?

It costs around £8,000 to £10,000 to buy one acre of land in the UK. You could fit around 4,000 solar panels on an acre, which would cost around £3 million to buy and install. You will also have to pay additional costs for connecting your panels to the National Grid, and for solar panel maintenance and cleaning.

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