Waste management contractor Veolia has sparked up what it claims is Britain’s biggest solar farm yet to be built on a restored landfill dump.

The 59MW-rated facility newly built in Ockendon – a patch of half-rural, half-industrial Essex that even county natives look down upon – commands an output nominally equivalent to 15,000 homes’ consumption in a year.

Frames at the Ockendon establishment now support 107,000 PV modules, each rated at either 540Wp or 545Wp, thanks to their bi-facial ability to convert light reflected up from the verdant Essex sod.

Gloucestershire-based technology provider REG Power Management came up with the kit. The Essex order includes inverters changing the panels‘ DC output into AC, ready for being stepped up to a grid-ready 132 kV by transformers at the Warley substation, 2.6 miles north.

Recycling leviathan Veolia already generates 800GWh of renewable electricity – a baseload nominally meeting 240,000 homes’ use – from its collection of UK assets in solar, biomass, biogas, and Energy Recovery facilities (ERF).  Ockendon is its third British ground-mounted solar farm, after Ling Hall, Warwickshire, and Netley in Hampshire.

More roof-mounted modules commissioned by Veolia power UK hospitals, offices, water treatment works and recycling centres.  All the output qualifies as low carbon under the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) regime.

Hailing Veolia’s Ockendon achievement, Donald Macphail, its chief operating officer for treatment, said “This development is a further step towards achieving a Net Zero carbon future for the UK, and a demonstration of how we can transform this restored landfill to give it a new life.

“This (Ockendon) project also has greater significance, “ Macphail explained, ”as the solar arrays have minimal ground level impact, so the wildlife that has repopulated the restored land can continue to coexist with the technology”.

Matt Partridge, development director at REG Power Management added: “We’re delighted to have worked with Veolia to help deliver another significant clean energy development”.

Veolia Group aspires from its Paris headquarters – a city rarely confused with the Essex edgelands  – to become what it calls the “benchmark company for ecological transformation”.  With 220,000 employees and operations on five continents covering recycling, waste disposal  & water treatment, last year the group generated 44TWh of energy internationally.


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