Huge solar farm given go ahead: See it on a map

It’s claimed to be the largest solar farm site on the Island. We’ve got it for you plotted on a map of the Island. It’s big. Really big.

A company based in Ireland has been given the go-ahead, by the Isle of Wight council planning committee, to build the largest solar farm on the Island.

It is hoped by the developer, BNRG Renewables, that the 75-acre development at Hill Farm, St Helens/Brading will produce 10MW of electricity.

The CP say that the approval was given with the understanding that the panels be removed after 25 years. It’s also reported that St Helens Parish Council objected to the development, whilst Brading Town Council supported it.

See it on the map
We’ve plotted site of the solar farm based on the paperwork submitted with the planning application.

If you want to see a larger version, to gain more context, please take a look at the map of the solar farm that we’ve prepared.

View HIll Farm – Solar Farm plans in a larger map

BNRG Renewables

Image: Google maps

Location map
View the location of this story.

Wednesday, 23rd January, 2013 4:01pm



Filed under: Brading, Business, Farming, Green Issues, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Planning, St Helens, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. somewhat better than great big wind farms spoiling the landscape

  2. So, energy production vs. food production. Let battle commence!

    • Assuming it is 10MWh, that’s the same as around 3-4 windmills (for those that feel the need to compare or justify/affirm any particular intolerance/support).

      I’d take 3-4 windmills and keep 74 acres of farmland personally (wonder if solar is more profitable for farmers than wind power as it means they can rent out a much larger area of land?)

  3. “will produce 10MW of electricity”

    What, all the time? :-)

    I think they mean it CAN produce 10MW in the middle of a sunny day. The average insolation (incident sunlight) round here is about 10%, so it will deliver around 1MW over the year. This is only economic if it includes a hefty subsidy, which appears on our bills under ‘government obligations’ or somesuch, and is one reason they have gone up so much in recent years.

    As even George Monbiot says: Solar PV is a great technology – if you live in southern California.

    • James, I think you are rather mistaken. Solar PV needs daylight to work, not sunlight.

      As there are already quite a number of solar farms installed and in production on the IOW, which are apparently ahead of their production targets the evidence points to you being very wide of the mark.

      Lest we forget George Monbiot is a journalist not a scientist. As his ramblings on the subject appear to be subjective, not objective (and before solar PV was installed widely in the UK) maybe you should think carefully before quoting him.

      It should also be borne in mind that solar PV technology is moving ahead reasonably quickly, with prices coming down and efficiencies going up.

      All this without it being nearly as immediately obtrusive as wind turbines. Oh and it’s silent. And it’s solid state. And the sun tends not to blow in the wrong direction, or not enough.

      Shall we also add in that solar panels can be simply driven into the ground on stands, on the poorest farmland, from which food output is at best marginal? Maybe we can also consider the environmental improvement in habitat the green cover under the panels will support?

      The fact there is over 20MW of solar already installed and producing on the IOW without anywhere near the hoo-ha a single sub 1MW turbine causes is an indicator that this much less obnoxious means of generation is suitable for deployment on the Island.

      There was a reason the large greenhouses went up in the Arreton Valley a few decades ago and it wasn’t because the IOW was renowned for its wind.

      • I’m not mistaken at all.

        I notice you don’t address the subsidies, without which no-one would put them up in the first place.

        I mentioned George Monbiot as he’s normally the darling of the green movement, but even he thinks that solar PV is a scam. You know about his bet with Jeremy Leggett, I suppose?

        • Mark L Francis

          24.Jan.2013 12:39pm

        • That study is from mid-Scotland, which gets significantly less daylight than the IOW. There’s also a comment about the type of panels. The question you should be asking is ‘what’s the type of panels that are being used in the IOW solar farms?’ If they’re the domestic-scale type panels (inefficient as flagged in the web link) then there’s a point. If they’re those which are effective in cloudy conditions then the article’s irrelevant.

          As farming is ‘subsidised’ as well as power, we can only assume that farming is also something people wouldn’t do in the first place as well. Heaven forbid that possibly most markets are rigged through subsidy/backhanders/protectionism. At least the feed-in tariff subsidies are relatively transparent. They’re there to address a requirement for more renewables. Unless we get generation off the ground for these sectors then they won’t grow and mature. In due course when they have had more money spent on them mature winners and losers will emerge. What’s the alternative? Bury our heads and keep burning fossil fuels because they’re cheaper than renewables? In austere times funding work that’s nice, but not an absolute necessity means progress doesn’t stall.

      • peaceful_life

        23.Jan.2013 5:34pm

        There is no such thing as ‘poorest farmland’, there’s abused land, and industrial chemical ‘farmers’, but it’s nothing a mycologist and a regenarative gardner couldn’t sort out.

        PV itself is ok, but perhaps a decentralised and community owned approach would be better arrangement.They should also be covering existing buildings, and not acres of food security.

    • Your wrong on two counts James:

      A) Solar needs daylight NOT sunlight (that’s what incident sunlight is – it doesn’t mean direct sunlight).

      B) By your calculation it will produce 1MW per hour, NOT per year. However I think this is probably also wildly wrong (see below).

      For starters I’m not sure where you’ve plucked the 10% incident sunlight figure from – it’s probably more like 30-40%. There’s nothing to suggest they haven’t already included this in their figures already either – I’d be surprised if they haven’t actually. So from the percentage of incident sunlight they expect to receive, they’ve calculated it will generate 10MWh.

      Over the year that’s 87600MW.

      Quite a bit higher than 1MW.

      • A) Read my link above for the effect of clouds on sunlight. Power drops dramatically in shade, as you might guess if you’re sunbathing and a cloud goes by.

        B) You’re confusing power and energy. Energy (MWh) is what you pay for and power (MW) is the rate at which you consume it. There is no such thing as “MW per hour”.

        I admit 10% was a bit low – it’s nearer 12% on the Island. This map shows around 1000kWh/m2 over a year, which is 8760 hours, so you’re getting 1/8.76 = 11.4% of what you would get if there was full sunlight all the time…

        • First off, I’m a scientist, so telling me there’s no such thing as MWh is a bit baffling!

          Here’s a simple link for you:

          1MW is equivalent to about 10 car engines. Being as I have a few solar panels on my roof (and my electricity meter has been running backwards) I can comfortably attest that 75 acres of the things will produce quite a bit more energy than that. ;-)

          They’ll also produce far far more than 10MW a year, which is why I’ve assumed MWh is the unit the original article probably meant to convey.

          1 wind turbine usual ranges in power output from 1 – 5MWh, so I’d be a bit alarmed if 75 acres of solar panels only produced 10MW over the entire year when 2 large wind turbines could produce that in an hour given the right conditions (and thus hopefully saving us a protracted debate about wind turbine efficiency on top of this).

          A MWh is the most

          • OK, Mr I’m-a-scientist; if you read my comment again, you will see that I do not say there’s no such thing as a MWh, I quoted the original error of MW per hour, which is not the same at all.

            Despite your link, you seem a bit confused about the difference between energy and power yourself – wind turbines are not rated in MWh, and the original article was correct in using the 10MW figure as the output, which is probably about 5000 times what your roof installation produces. When the sun is shining, that is…

  4. Billy Builder

    23.Jan.2013 4:28pm

    Surely it would be better to use the land for agriculture and fit solar panels to the ten’s of thousands of the islands rooftops

  5. That’s a lot of MWs. Bravo! :)

  6. Would we rather have a nuclear power station on the Medina ? I don’t think so ! We all consume power, some more than others, but it is time to grow up so that there is still a world left to pass on to our children and grand children. Just stop being so negative the WHOLE time and start to embrace change and helpful technology. It will improve over time if it is given a chance and some of the best innovative brains are in UK. This country needs to capitalise on that and not let all our efforts be built in China, Japan or Germany, the current world leader in Inverter production using OUR technology…

  7. Island Monkey

    23.Jan.2013 5:52pm

    Great news!

    For the Chinese makers of the panels. Great news too for the landowner – who gets a very generous taxpayer guaranteed return for 25 years.

    Bad news for common sense. Decent land is best used for food production – although the barmy EU prefers paying farmers to ‘manage’ the countryside.

    It remains a mad world.

  8. the land can still be used for food production,if they are on legs as in photo then grass will grow under them and sheep can graze the grass,there by producing meat for food,simples.

  9. Don Smith

    24.Jan.2013 1:05am

    Will they last for twenty-five years?

  10. Fully agree with island monkeys comment , we need to put these panels on all industrial buildings and new homes when built . Don’t forget our beloved council offices that can also have a Hot air collection system installed …….

  11. I am a strong believer in the need to shift the electricity production from fossil fuels to renewables. Despite some claims, we are only ever going to use more electric and not less.

    However, this Island needs to think in a clear coherent fashion with a good plan and leadership prepared to back it.

    This is not Spain, this is not the Sahara. We have more sun than the rest of the UK (depending on whose tourist advert you trust) but Solar farms in the UK is a dead idea. we have the wrong climatic conditions and too little uneconomic land.
    Solar panels work well on ‘dead spaces’ roofs, canopies etc or in uneconomic land such as contaminated land or deserts. We don’t have any of these on the Isle of Wight.
    Consider for a moment the animals who live under the solar panels. Not a great life is it. No and the flora? Perhaps a mushroom farm can operate under it.

    What if a right of way ran through the field? I suspect it would not be able to route through the solar farm.

    Yet this is allowed?

    Try to build a small on shore wind farm using expertise already on the Island. no, no way mate. Why?

    Because If a wind farm was built on the field (which would take up less space and keep a thriving ecosystem alive underneath it and would produce more electricity and produce it at night and the early evening where the peak demand is) then it would be visible from:

    St Helens,
    Brading Downs

    And in all of these places, a minority of the population do not want to look out of their window and see the 21st century, modern cutting edge technology at work.

    We need a leadership to have strong leadership and allow these wind farm developments. Look to the future, embrace it, reap the benefits. Stop keeping the island living in the past. The island has no future without innovation.

    • Try and go have a look at some of the +20MW of solar installed on the IOW already. It sounds like you never have.

      The solar farms I know of have excellent flora growing around it. The panels are on uprights which are simply driven into the ground – the only concrete is for the transformers. This flora will also support a wide variety of fauna too – far richer than an agricultural monoculture.

      Rights of way are respected because it takes an Act of parliament to re-route or close one – you’re spouting ridiculous nonsense!

      The whole installation can be removed with relative ease. Compare this to the huge concrete foundations required to build each deep turbine base and the balance swings a long way back away from turbines.

      Some people may not mind the look of turbines, but those living close to them may well have their quality of life ruined by the noise from them adn the flicker.

  12. Hill Farm solar- “Brading’s Planning Committee chairman… a geography teacher…told the meeting her A-level students carried out a scheme analysis- unaminously concluding that the benefits far outweighed the costs.”
    (CP 25/1/13 pg.1)

    Well then! ‘Nuff said! “No question remains!”

    You couldn’t invent it could you? :-))

    There are rumours that toddlers in nursery classes in Cowes are finger-painting an artist’s impression of the proposed Medina Asphalt Plant, while their counterparts in Wellow are building plasticine models of wind turbines. Both will be submitted to IWC and the Appeal as evidence in favour of the plans. :-))

    • “unaminously concluding that the benefits far outweighed the costs”

      And I wonder how they calculated the costs? Are the subsidies in there..?

      • Cost-Benefit Analysis is a tricky thing to perform for the the reason you point out. How have the costs and the benefits been calculated?, what assumptions have been made?, over what time frame?, what are the best-case and worst-case scenarios? and so on.

        If experienced and fully trained Civll Service economists usually have substantial difficulty arriving at a firm CBA conclusion, I suggest that A-level students would do also.

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