If it's daytime, we're generating power!
Our solar panels are connected to the local electricity grid, which supplies local homes and businesses - so when it's generating, you will be getting your electricity from the solar farm.
At Southill the solar panels, or ‘arrays’, are installed in rows across 20 acres of land. The site is south-facing and on a slope, making it an ideal location for our photovoltaic (PV) panels to do their work.
The panels convert sunlight into energy by generating a direct current (DC) of electricity. This is then passed through an inverter to convert it into an alternating current (AC), which is fed into the National Grid via the nearby sub-station.
Solar panels do not need direct sunshine to work, but can also generate electricity even in overcast weather. If it's daytime, we're generating power!
How much electricity does Southill generate?
It is estimated that for every 5 megawatts (MW) installed, a solar farm will power 1,500 homes annually (based on an average annual consumption of 3,300 kWh of electricity per household) and save 2,150 tonnes of CO2. Roughly 25 acres of land is required for every 5 MW.
With 20 acres of land available, Southill Solar will have a capacity of 4.5MW. That means it will generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of all the homes in Charlbury, Finstock and Fawler – about 1,100 homes. That’s about 4,414,000 kWh.
But don’t take our word for it! You can now see how much electricity we’re producing by checking the latest generation data from Southill Solar. The data is refreshed at 5-minute intervals.
On the dashboard, you can see the ‘yield’ - the amount of energy generated (measured in kWh), the ‘irradiance’ - the amount of solar radiation hitting the panels (measured by W/m2) and the estimated CO2-reduction versus producing the same amount of energy with fossil fuels. You can also see the yield and CO2 saving for the lifetime of the project to date.
How does Southill Solar make money?
Over half the money Southill Solar makes comes from selling electricity to a local energy company. We negotiate regularly to make sure we’re getting the best price for our power, and to check if we should change who we sell to.
The other half of the return comes from the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme. Under the RO scheme, UK power suppliers must get a proportion of their electricity from renewable sources. Southill Solar is one of the large-scale renewable energy projects that is eligible for RO. We’re guaranteed support under the scheme for the full life of the solar farm.
We were one of the last solar farms to be able to qualify for RO – the UK government has closed the scheme. You can find out more about the RO scheme on the Ofgem website.
What happens to the electricity we make?
All the electricity Southill Solar generates will be sold to a supplier – we use Co-op Energy at present.
Under the rules that govern the electricity market, all electricity that we generate has to be fed back into the local electricity distribution network. There is work going on around the UK to find ways for community energy schemes to sell directly to their members, and we’d love Southill Solar could work this way in future.
Until then, if you buy your energy from Co-op Energy, you have at least a notional connection to our electricity. They’ve also agreed to pay £20 for every new household that signs up to buy energy from the Co-op Energy via this link (or by clicking one of the linked images).
The money raised by the community fund, from surplus profits from Southill Solar and this partnership, will all be invested in local projects – we aim to make on average £30,000 each year for 25 years.