RPS is supporting solar park developments in the UK for both landowners and developers, and both new and existing clients.
Image: FreeImages.com/ Johan Bolhuis.
Solar parks are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK. The recent surge in activity has been fuelled by what is known as feed-in tariffs, which were introduced in April 2010 and have made these types of developments economically viable. The UK’s solar photovoltaic market could grow five-fold in 2010 according to new analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers. As a result we are likely to see more and more solar park development in the UK.
Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, industrial installations for the production of electricity with an area of development that exceeds 0.5 hectare is defined as “Schedule 2 Development.” Schedule 2 development that is likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as nature, size or location is EIA development. It is highly likely that solar parks will be more than 0.5 hectares and so the second test is relevant. The need for EIA for solar parks will therefore be on a case by case basis.
RPS Oxford provides a hub for Planning and EIA skills relevant to renewables development. The EIA project management and planning teams, our ecology team, the landscape and visual resources, historic environment/buildings and GIS/CAD teams working with these projects are all based at RPS Oxford. Specialists on access matters (public rights of way and countryside access), agriculture, soils and socio-economics for EIA complement this renewables hub alongside the strong and supportive administration team. All the teams have a wealth of renewables experience and many of our clients have benefited from costs savings and improved processes through the ability to solve problems face to face at a multi-topic level.
Our in-house graphics team is fully able to develop visualisations for solar parks. The graphics team at RPS Oxford, headed up by Rupert Massey, was recently approached by an existing client to provide visualisation support for several solar park planning applications. Using our skills and knowledge of producing accurate photomontages we have produced a series of photomontage views to wind farm visualisation guidance standard. Where required, we showed year 10 photomontages to demonstrate screening effects. By exporting the model into Google Earth format the client was able to explore a selection of views.
Building mounted photovoltaic
RPS Milton Keynes has been involved in numerous building mounted photovoltaics. Since the introduction of the revised feed in tariff, the interest shown in photovoltaics has increased with new proposals being submitted for large photovoltaic systems designed to maximise revenues from feed in tariffs.
The Milton Keynes office is able to provide technical advice on achieving optimum design and potential revenue from photovoltaic installations including the revenue generated by feed in tariff, import saving and export revenue. As building services consultants, the team is able to provide innovative solutions to gain maximum usage of the energy generated to any building load if applicable.
We keep abreast of current technology and can ensure the most efficient and cost effective systems are installed. We liaise on behalf of the client, with the District Network Operator to ensure the necessary documentation is in place that permits the safe connection and continued operation and future maintenance of the solar photovoltaic system. Once installed, RPS will witness any testing prior to connection to the grid, and ensure the equipment is operating correctly.
Thumbnail: FreeImages.com/ Patrick Moore