Rain affects solar farm
5:30am Thursday 20th February 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
STORMY weather over the past fortnight has forced Dutch investor Eneco to extend its weekend working hours in an effort to stay on schedule and have Sevor Farm Solar commissioned by April 1.
The storms which have engulfed the country for much of the past fortnight have left the solar farm near South Marston in a desperate state and too unstable for construction work to continue as planned.
The investor, which began its association with the 10MW farm in January, is currently in the process of delivering solar panels to the site and attaching them to the poles already in the ground.
However the ground and surface are too wet for workers and vehicles to get around the site, which has slowed progress, for fear of turning the site in a muddy bog. In an effort to avoid prolonging the impact on residents, the firm has begun working past 1pm on Saturday as well as Sunday.
Guy Madgwick, UK solar director at Eneco, said: “It should all be finished on time still. We are in a Catch-22 situation: while it’s not ideal to work weekends, we didn’t want to extend the impact on the village.
“The weather has been absolutely incredible. It is unprecedented in this area.
“We still have some of the modules (solar panels) to go in, but the last I knew, all the posts were in the ground and in place.
“It’s construction conditions which are difficult. Getting around the site creates the risk of churning the grass up and turning it into a boggy area.”
To date, 20,000 of the 40,000 solar panels have been placed at the site, with the final 5,000 still to be delivered. Over 58 per cent of the overall construction work has been complete.
There are currently as many as 15 lorries making deliveries to the site each day, though this is expected to drop from March 10 to only two or three per day.
This will also be the date the entire solar farm is connected to the grid. The end date for construction is predicted as March 20, with a final commissioning of the site April 1.
Meanwhile, Eneco is strengthening its connections with South Marston School.
Guy said: “We are going back into the school next week to see them, when we will be doing a seminar on solar energy and making a solar powered pizza box oven.”