Solar farm built by Stobart at Southend airport – another allowed close to Bournemouth airport
A new 2.5 megawatt ‘Solar Photovoltaic Array’ has been built by Stobart Developments on 3.2 hectares of unused grassland at the north of the Southend airport site. The airport hopes around 20% of its annual electricity requirement will now be generated by the panels. There will be over 9,500 panels, “mounted on 3 metre high steel frames supported on approximately 2600 piles across 37 rows. The layout of the panels has been specially designed to prevent reflective glare affecting approaching aircraft and the air traffic control tower.” There had previously been concerns about glare from the panels affecting pilots. There is now also to be a solar farm under Bournemouth Airport’s flight path, about 720 metres to the west of the airport. It has been approved by planners at East Dorset District Council. Questions were initially raised over air passengers’ safety when the proposals were revealed, due to the glare and reflection on sunny days. The airport had objected to it, due to solar glare, saying “the effect on operations is pronounced and severe throughout the year, making aircraft operations unsafe if the development was to go ahead.” However, their complaints were then conditionally withdrawn after a “glint and glare” study was done.
Southend Airport opens solar farm
8 January 2016 (Advance)
Around 20% of London Southend Airport’s annual electricity requirement will now be generated by a brand new solar farm on the airport site.
The 2.5 megawatt ‘Solar Photovoltaic Array’ was built by Stobart Developments and is located on 3.2 hectares of unused grassland at the north of the airport site.
The array consists of over 9,500 individual solar panels, which are mounted on 3 metre high steel frames supported on approximately 2600 piles across 37 rows. The layout of the panels has been specially designed to prevent reflective glare affecting approaching aircraft and the air traffic control tower.
Installation of the £2 million solar farm involving one hundred workers got underway in November 2015. It was registered with OfGEM on 31 December 2015 – however contractors are continuing on site during January for the final commissioning and hand-over.
The solar farm will now start supplying electricity to London Southend Airport, with additional capability for limited power also being exported to the national grid.
Glyn Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Stobart Aviation that owns London Southend Airport says “Our new solar farm is actually the largest at a UK airport and supports one of our key objectives, which is reducing our carbon footprint and the electricity we require from the national grid network. We are delighted as London’s newest airport to have opportunities to introduce the latest ‘green’ initiatives as part of our development.”
In 2014, Britain’s largest airport solar installation to date was completed at London Southend Airport as part of the £10m terminal expansion. 496 solar panels now supply the terminal’s shops, cafes and restaurants with clean solar electricity via the airport’s private electricity network, avoiding around 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 20 years.
Southend airport wants to build an 8 acre solar farm on part of its land
Southend Airport is planning to build a solar farm on part of its land, which cannot be used for much else as it is in a flood plain area. This is land to the north of the main terminal. The plan is for 12,000 solar panels in 41 rows, spread over almost 8 acres of grassland. – and providing up to 20% of the airport’s electricity on some days. Council planners are recommending approval for the plans, even though councillors rejected an almost identical plan a few months ago. As the panels are on frames, they can be above the flood level, and the transformer building would be sited outside the flood plain. The EA objected to the previous application because it would lay on a flood plain, and has submitted a provisional objection this time on the same grounds. Airport officials say the panels will not interfere with the airport’s operations. The plan is that the panels will not disturb nearby badger setts. Rochford’s planning committee is due to vote on the application – on Thursday 20th May. There are still government subsidies for this sort of solar farm, as it is not taking up valuable agricultural land. Some other airports in sunnier countries have solar farms.
Solar farm plans for Bournemouth Airport given the go-ahead
21 October 2015 (Daily Echo)
Councillors have backed plans for a new solar farm in Bournemouth Airport’s flight path.
Questions were initially raised over air passengers’ safety when the proposals were revealed.
However, it was later deemed that the project would not cause issues for planes.
The site at Woodtown Farm, which is to the south of Christchurch Road in West Parley, were discussed by councillors sitting on East Dorset District Council’s planning committee.
The plans have now been given the green light, meaning that the solar farm, proposed by developers Woodtown Solar Ltd, will soon be under construction.
The solar farm will cover a 7.46 hectare site for a temporary duration of 35 years, after which the land could be returned to its existing use of turf cultivation or agriculture.
Safety bosses at Bournemouth Airport initially strongly objected to the proposals, claiming such panels would cause “unacceptable levels of solar glare to aircraft”.
However, their complaints were then conditionally withdrawn.
A safeguarding officer from the airport wrote in a reply to the council during consultation: “The development has been examined against the aerodrome safeguarding criteria and due to the location of the array calculations show that the development would cause unacceptable levels of solar glare to aircraft operating in and out of Bournemouth Airport.
“The effect on operations is pronounced and severe throughout the year, making aircraft operations unsafe if the development was to go ahead.
“As a result Bournemouth Airport objects to the proposal on the grounds of air safety.”
But during the summer, a spokesperson from the airport confirmed that the objection would be withdrawn if a series of conditions could be met.
A ‘glint and glare’ study was undertaken that showed there would be no risk to planes from the solar farm.
Councillors from West Parley Parish Council had strongly objected to the plans.
The airport is based 720 metres to the east of the planned solar farm site.
The ‘low impact’ farm will be built in green belt land.
Plans revealed for 20-acre solar farm next to Manston airport site
Glare from solar farms:
“Standard photovoltaic panels are around 1.6m high and 1m wide which are mounted on frames. Their height above ground is usually up to 2.75m. They are designed to absorb rather than reflect light for efficiency – reflected light or heat is wasted energy – and although the amount of reflection varies with the component materials and the angle, the incidence of glare is usually much less than from glass windows or car windscreens. Any glare is most likely when the sun is low in the sky as reflection increases the further the sun’s rays are from perpendicular to the panel. It is possible, and is likely to be required as part of the planning application, for computer modelling of the glare and sightlines. Analysis of these patterns for potential impact on equestrian businesses should be considered.”
From the British Horse Society
From the USA:
Due to the close proximity of the solar project to the airfield, which is also in the flight path of arriving aircrafts, the applicant prepared a reflectivity analysis of the potential impacts of glare on aircrafts on final approach to the airfield. The analysis showed that while there is a potential for an after-image, that effect occurs when aircrafts are perpendicular to the glare source and would be a brief occurrence in the pilots’ peripheral view. The FAA issued a “determination of no hazard to air navigation” for the project in March.
With over 30 solar projects operating at airports in 15 different states, the success of the airport-solar partnerships has been well established.