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Co-locating solar and wind to capitalise on available connection in grid-constrained West Country

Between 2010 and 2015 Devon and Cornwall saw some of the UK’s most rapid growth in the deployment of both solar and wind energy, and the counties boasted a renewable generating capacity of nearly 1,500 MW.

But upgrades to the distribution infrastructure failed to keep pace, and in 2015 grid constraints led Western Power Distribution to delay all connections to high voltage lines (>6.6KV) in the West Country for up to six years.

With a connection already established to our 500 kW turbine at Babeleigh in north Devon, we saw an opportunity to capitalise on this by installing a 400 kW solar PV system on the land right alongside it.

Wind and sun are both in plentiful supply in the south west – but not always at the same time. So we installed a switching system that allows the turbine and the solar array to supply power to the grid up to the allowable limit, curtailing the solar when that limit is reached, and maximising use of the existing high voltage connection capacity.

With grid connections so scarce in the south west, we made it our mission to maximise renewable output through whatever capacity was available.

Dean Robson – Managing Director, CleanEarth