The first solar park in Wales is expected to start converting sunlight into electricity later at the Rhosygilwen estate in Pembrokeshire. Dr Glen Peters, who owns the land and the nearby county mansion and art centre, has funded the project. Almost 10,000 solar panels have been imported from the United States and are placed in 12 lines in a six-acre field.
The £2.5m investment will be onstream three weeks before the UK government lowers the subsidy for large-scale solar energy investors. The site’s owner Western Solar still hopes to double its size. It is run by Dr Glen Peters who owns Rhosygilwen mansion and art centre with his family.
He said: “There are 10,000 panels here. They are very cutting edge from the States. They are thin film, particularly suited to our climate here of largely cloudy skies.”
He has planning consent for a development twice the size but had to rethink his plans.
“There was no bank financing available. I then had to take a total act of faith and said ‘okay, we will halve the scheme, we will do one megawatt initially’ and I basically raided my pension fund.”
Other applications for three and five megawatt solar parks at Cynheidre and Ffos Las in west Wales are said to be still in planning. But while Rhosygilwen has beaten the government’s closing of a lucrative loophole, developers like Nigel Payne of Allied Renewables in Swansea are setting their sights lower. His company hopes to complete three 50 kilowatt solar parks, half the size of Rhosygilwen, by September.