Farming the Sun

I see that someone in The Times was complaining about the proliferation of solar panel farms and the impact on green spaces and in particular an area of natural beauty in Dorset. The solar panels are to be installed on one side of a valley overlooked by villages packed with listed buildings. Green energy has to come at a cost but when is that cost too much.

I think we have all got used to energy generating windmills that dot our landscapes in groups. They do generate carbon free electricity after you discount the carbon cost of construction delivery and erection. Are they an eyesore? I actually don’t mind seeing them because I have got used to them. They certainly do produce a lot of green energy. The UK has over 8,800 megawatts of onshore windfarm capacity and over 5,000 megawatts of offshore windfarm capacity. But the subsidies to build them onshore have been withdrawn and most are now being built offshore.

Windmills are not new. The Chinese used a primitive form of windmill over 2000 years ago and Don Quixote was tilting the sails of windmills in La Mancha in about 1600 (well that was when the book was written). As an aside, I wanted to read the book so I asked an assistant in Waterstones where I could find Don Quixote, said in my perfect Spanish accent (ha ha). He responded with ‘Donkey who’?’ Are the 5000 or so windmills that sit on the Lasithi Plateau an eyesore because they were built in the 20th Century. Were the traditional windmills built in this country to grind wheat an eyesore when they were first built. Now they are quaint! I must admit that the visual difference between the modern electricty generator and the wheat grinder is quite striking, But then the difference between a schythe and a combine harvester is also quite striking but is not a problem.

I suppose the photovoltaic panel farms are new to us and we will eventually get used to them as I have with the generator windmills. Are they good value from the land covered to the energy created. There is not a lot of information on the net about the generation of power per acre. From what I have found it appears that a solar farm offers better energy generation per acre compared to electricity generating windmills. I think that the difference is that wind turbines need to be in places which are fairly remote but a solar farm can be ’round the corner’.

I understand that there was some suggestion that the pub field could have been used for solar panels. That is only a about an acre so not much generation of electricity there. If you look around the village there is a lot of flat sites that could be used for a solar farms. Nice and open with few issues I think. There is land to the north of the village and that to the south. They offer very good sites for solar farms. Acceptable? Probably not to me but then we need to move to green energy very quickly and we must accept the cost. Is the carbon reduction of a solar farm worth loosing a good view for.