Moray council has officially green lit what will be the largest solar array in Scotland.
The Speyslaw solar farm will consist of 80,000 solar panels across a 47 hectare site near Urquhart in Northern Scotland, and will have a generational capacity of some 20MW. This makes it more than 50% more powerful than the current largest solar farm in Scotland, a 13MW farm in Perthshire.
Bristol Based company Elgin Energy is responsible for both farms, along with several others throughout the UK and ROI, with a total generational capacity of around 250MW across all of its projects. Elgin’s aims don’t stop there either – the company is already in the process of trying to obtain permission for an even larger 50MW solar farm near the town of Elgin in Morayshire.
According to Moray Council’s terms, Elgin has permission to have the farm at the Speyslaw site running for a 30 year period. Elgin has assured that during this time, the surrounding environment will be impacted as little as possible.
A spokesperson for the company explained: “Existing field boundaries will not be disturbed and mature hedgerows will provide generous screening for the site.
“Elgin Energy has contacted those neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the site and has offered to answer any queries which might arise.
“The land will remain in agricultural use in the form of sheep grazing while being used for the dual purpose of generating low-carbon renewable energy.”
The dual benefits of having large amounts of completely clean energy generated, and having the local environment protected, pleased Moray Council’s Planning Committee chair Claire Feaver.
“A significant amount of renewable energy will be generated by this solar farm over the next 30 years,” she said.
“The opportunity to continue grazing on the land, together with the Habitat Management Plan, will maintain and enhance the diverse range of species in and around the site. I see this as a win-win.”
Scotland is an important location for renewable energy generation in Europe and indeed worldwide, with the country and its surrounding waters boasting several major wind farms as well as these recent and upcoming solar developments, and various tidal projects.
In the waters just North of the Speyslaw site, in the Moray firth, work is set to soon begin on the expansion of the Beatrice Offshore wind farm. Currently it consists of two 5MW turbines, but last year permission was granted for the construction of a further 82 turbines, that will bring the total generational capacity up to 588MW.