Saturday, 12 February 2011

ERROR or Mis-information?

I read with great interest the Thanet Press Release which publicised the proposed Solar Park at Ebbsfleet adjacent to the Richborough Power Station. The press release stated the output would be 4000 to 5000 Mw, whereas documents attached to the planning application stated 4 to 5 Mw(p). Not being an electrical engineer I thought that I may be missing some subtle difference in these two output claims.

I have now taken expert advice and have been informed that an output of 4000 to 5000 Mw is ridiculous and cannot possibly be achieved by 12 Ha of solar panels. In fact if this power output were possible the world’s energy shortages would be solved.

The reason for writing this post is that the press release was issued by Thanet District Council, who is also considering the planning application. It is imperative that the planning officer dealing with the application is aware of the true output of this solar installation to be sited on 12 Ha of prime arable land, 4 to 5 Mw is about the same output as ONE wind turbine.

Additional Post.

I found this on Wikipedia which puts things into perspective.:
 "A typical coal powered power station produces around 600-700 MW (megawatts)."

Having read the planning documents in greater detail it would appear that the council press release is confusing Megawatts with Megawatt hours.  Megawatt hours is the output times the number of hours per year, interestingly 4000 to 5000 Mw hrs for a 4 to 5 Mw output gives 1000 hours per year which divided by 365 days in a year means the solar panels are operating only 2.74 hours per day on average


  1. Is it not the problem that the planning officer and committee are only being asked if the installation conforms to planning conditions as set down by government. They are not being asked if the system design is efficient, or if the business plan is based on subsidies.

    With all these schemes, and I am NOT implying anyone connected with this project has any intention of doing anything like this, I would be tempted to over-rate the stated production capacity and back-feed electricity bought on the open market to resell at a guaranteed subsided price.
    To quote from the Renewable Energy Foundation press release 06.01.11 “However, it has transpired that due to government’s design of the FiT (Feed in Tariff) legislation Ofgem is unable to determine how much electrical energy is actually being produced by any of these generators.

  2. Anon 02.45. I acknowledge your superior knowledge on the wider issue and I am sure there are many people making money from government subsidies

    My concern about planning amounts to "is this a suitable alternative use of 12Ha of prime arable land".

    If ONE wind turbine can match it then I think the answer is NO.

  3. Thanet District Council,
    PO Box 9
    Cecil Street,
    Margate, Kent.
    CT9 1XZ

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Proposed Solar Park, Ebbsfleet Farm, Ramsgate, CT12 5DL
    Application No F/TH/11/0029.

    I am writing to express my concern about information published regarding the above application. A TDC press release quoted the output of this solar park to be 4000 to 5000 Mw. The documentation attached to the planning application quotes the output as 4 to 5 Mw(p). I am not an electrical engineer so I sought technical advice on the correct level of output for this installation.

    I am reliably informed that the figure of 4000 to 5000 Mw is so ridiculously high as to be either an error of mis-representation. I am sure as a planning authority you will refer to the submitted documentation for the facts of the case. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in order to generate 4 or 5 Mw of power, 12 Ha of prime arable land is being sacrificed, 4 or 5 Mw of power can be generated by ONE wind turbine.

    I trust you will take these matters into account when considering the application.

    Yours faithfully,

  4. Ken

    You'll have spotted after the 5 years that you've lived here that the whole point of TDC is to expedite the eventual concreting over of every bit of this Island. The local MP has raised concerns over food reliance in the future but that isn't going to worry the gentlemen in Cecil Square one jot - most of them won't be here

  5. Ken I saw an interesting article on Countryfile or one of its similar programes about solar panels on farm land. The farm in the article still grazed sheep below the solar panels creating a dual use. I see no problems taking that further and planting some cabbages or collies betwee the panels thus doubling the use maybethe yeild would be reduced. The farm on tellie placed them on unproductive land only suitable for grazing.

  6. It would be debatable that the 12 Ha of arable land is being sacrificed. By taking the PV option the panels are mounted on a light metal framework driven into the ground (no concrete) which could be easily dismantled to return the land back to arable use. The frames being less than 4 metres high will have a low visual impact in the surrounding area, no noise, no pollution. The site owner will more than likely get a far better return by PV generation with less hassle than farming the site.

    If the planning officer has to follow government Planning Policy Statement 22: Renewable Energy and I am not sure that this is the one in force for this project, it states in key objects:

    1 (ii) Regional spatial strategies and local development documents should contain policies designed to promote and encourage, rather than restrict, the development of renewable energy resources.....

    1 (v) Regional planning bodies and local planning authorities should not make assumptions about the technical and commercial feasibility of renewable energy projects.....

    Anon 02.45