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Newark Advertiser reader’s letter: Research adds to solar farm concerns

The proposed Great North Road Solar Power plant has prompted me and I’m sure many other individuals, groups and local councils to do some research into the effects of such large scale solar farm projects.

I looked for the pure science on the subject but found only one report posted on the science register which analysed the environmental impacts of the farms upon surrounding areas.

Its reference is “Science Report 6, 35070(2016)” entitled Photovoltaic Heat Island Effect for large scale solar farm projects.

The research examines the impact of solar farms upon Desert and Arid soils. I suppose this is no surprise as this is the environment where solar farms were always intended to be deployed.

The research found that the difference in ambient air temperature between the solar farms and surrounding desert landscape was an average of plus 4C by day and plus 2C by night. In simple terms the desert was made hotter than it was before.

When you consider how hot the surface of desert sand is and it’s solar reflectance abilities it gives some understanding as to how much hotter the solar panel surfaces must be and to their solar reflectance abilities .

There is however no such research available on the environmental impact of solar farms situated on Temperate Grasslands; as in the UK.

Without such research being available it doesn’t take much of a logical leap to conclude that the ambient temperature difference between the solar farm and surrounding grassland will be substantially higher than the plus 4C and plus 2C experienced in the desert.

Grass is cool because of Photosynthesis and Transpiration. It has very little solar reflectance and virtually zero thermal mass. (unlike desert sands and soils)

I must admit that I find it a little disturbing that the UK’s green energy policy and the British Energy Security Strategy is to push ahead with solar farm installations on grassland without an understanding of the impacts of the Photovoltaic Heat Island effect. We could be heating up our atmosphere rather than cooling it as intended.

Given the proven PVHI effect, then surely we as a country must have a science based understanding of the extent of the environmental impact this has in temperate regions, before proceeding any further with solar farm rollouts.

Given that the GNR Solar Power Farm will, currently, be the largest in the UK

I believe we must insist during the projects Consultation process, that an independent scientific research report on the PVHI effect be produced.

Surely, as a nation, we must have a proper understanding of what we are doing. – P. HOLMES, Farndon.

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