Cambridgeshire gains UK’s largest solar farm
Setting the scene
Based in South Cambridgeshire in the UK, Vine Farm Solar Park is one of the UK’s largest solar installations, spanning 88 hectares.
The impressive 146,000 panel utility scale site generates 46 MW, enough to supply 11,500 homes.
Via a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement, the world largest building society, Nationwide, is using the power from the solar farm to increase the amount of renewable energy it uses and to manage the environmental impact of its activities.
Our expert operations and management team is now in place to ensure maximum availability and yield optimisation for the plant at all times.
Meeting the challenge
With 46 MWp, Vine Farm is the largest single solar project developed by us to date in the UK.
We financed the project, and completed it in just seven months – a major feat given the scale and scope of the installation
We took a decentralised approach, with the PV modules arranged in strings and power converted using modular string inverters. This means easier installation, lower O&M costs and a lower risk of outages due to technical problems.
Our expert operations management team now ensures the plant continues to operate at peak efficiency using advanced maintenance techniques.
This includes the use of drones with thermographic analysis to monitor performance. This technology allows us to significantly improve the correlation of infrared (IR) inspection results with performance data to make more efficient maintenance decisions.
A further benefit is the ability to utilise overlapping geo-referenced thermographic images and GIS software. By comparing results year-on-year, it helps to support predictive maintenance strategies.
The joint analysis of monitoring software data at string level, and IR inspection outcomes, also enables sound decision making on module substitution.
Another innovation is a specialist app. that allows us to keep track of all maintenance. In combination with a sophisticated ticket system, which enables us to organise field technicians and keep track of lifecycle incidents, it means we can monitor every component of Vine Farm to help prevent outages and maximise yields.
Getting the result
Thanks to our excellent working partnerships with our suppliers and business partners, the project was delivered on budget, and on time.
Our proprietary system design meets the most demanding standards in terms of optimised installation, subsequent maintenance effort and consistently high output.
Vine Farm was designed to achieve high yield and availability targets, which have been surpassed. Since it became energised, our operations and maintenance team has increased the technical availability by over 3.5 percent – that was up from 96,39 to 99,98 percent in the first year alone.
I’m delighted with the agreement we have in place with BayWa r.e. By increasing the amount of renewable electricity we’re using, we’re able to continue to ensure we’re doing our bit to manage the environmental impact of our activities and run the Society in a responsible way.