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Solar farm designed to help power hospital and meet net zero targets

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council South Wales
Solar Farm

Planning approval secured for 6MW solar farm on former colliery site in south Wales providing power to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, and helping both the hospital and local authority meet decarbonisation targets.

Acting for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, a multi-disciplinary team of engineers and renewable energy specialists from across Hydrock led the feasibility studies and guided the planning application for this grid-scale solar farm to a successful outcome in late 2023.

Supporting decarbonisation targets

The scheme at Coed Ely is expected to deliver a reduction of more than 7,355 tonnes of carbon during its 40-year lifespan.

It will connect 5MW of power directly to the National Grid and 1MW via private wire to the nearby Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

This is a significant achievement for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, which has committed to becoming a carbon-neutral council by 2030. It's also another critical step towards achieving the Welsh Government's ambition for a net zero public sector by 2030.

Engineering skills return brownfield land to productive use

This is a perfect example of how to create valuable new use from a brownfield site.

The soil quality on this reclaimed colliery site is unsuitable for crops, but through this scheme grazing rights for animals has been maintained, alongside a clean energy scheme. It’s a positive outcome for both farming and decarbonisation.

The topography of this former coal tip was the most challenging aspect for our engineering team.

The solar design and geological investigations were key to achieving the most optimum solar layout for the scheme, and our MEP team was instrumental in working on cable routes to the hospital.

We handled the full PV design, including mounting, electrical infrastructure, panels, site access, foundation design and layout. We also modelled the costs and the long-term financial benefits to the local authority in keeping with their climate change strategy.

The site will be made up of 10.992 photovoltaic (PV) panels, half of which will face east, and half towards the west, allowing use throughout the day. The panels will be installed at a low pitch to reduce potential glare sometimes associated with solar farms. Underground cables will connect the solar farm to the local distribution network and the hospital.

We are also supporting the council to procure the contractor, and will oversee the build phase in 2024 and assist with the operations and maintenance programme that follows.

Endorsement from the council

During the consultation period, Councillor Tina Leyshon, cabinet member for climate change and corporate services, spoke of the importance of the scheme locally:

"I am delighted to see the Council making positive steps towards generating renewable energy through the development of our first-ever land-based solar farm.

"I also think it's important to highlight how this project can be an example of how solar energy can also have a positive impact on biodiversity and farming."

The Coed Ely scheme is hugely positive in terms of the multi-dimensional benefit from decarbonisation and the public sector energy savings both for the NHS and the local authority.

Our work builds on the strong collaborative relationship we have with the council following the delivery of other major change programmes, such as Llys Cadwyn.

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