Tildy Bayar, Associate Editor, Renewable Energy World
August 29, 2013 | 2 Comments
Commitment 1: We will focus on non-agricultural land or land which is of lower agricultural quality.
Noble pointed to brownfield sites as the ideal location for solar development, including “ex-industrial land, ex-nuclear land, land that’s been blighted by waste tips [landfill], refuse tips [garbage dumps] – most of these are now covered over, but they’re never going to be used for anything else,” he said.
While the energy ministry has called for siting more solar on brownfield rather than greenfield sites, some in the industry believe this would be too restrictive given what a recent study says is a lack of sufficient brownfield land. The study by German developer Kronos Solar found that, of England’s 23,859 brownfield sites, almost 2000 are too far north to be workable and only 647 are large enough to host a solar field. Of the latter, more than 600 are already designated for other uses, while many are too far from the grid to be practical. According to the study, only 21 of the UK’s brownfield sites are suitable for solar development.
Noble said the government has a land bank, much of which is associated with the Ministry of Defense and is “not really farming land – there are buildings, and concrete blocks buried in it,” he said. Much of this “ideal” land is now becoming available, said Noble.
He also pointed to land with no real agricultural value except for grazing sheep, “marshy land or land that can’t grow crops.” If (and only if) the location is right, this type of land is suitable for solar fields, he said.
Suitable land for a solar field (Tavells solar farm pre-construction), courtesy Lightsource Renewable Energy