As Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg actively supports renewable energy programmes in the UK. Today he’s opening the Sheffield Solar Farm Project that provides a real-world test platform for photovoltaic technology and communicating the effectiveness of solar in Northern latitudes.

The Solar Farm project is part of Project Sunshine which aims to harness the power of the sun to tackle the increasing food and energy needs of the world’s population in light of uncertain climate and global environment change.

The landmark project will enable the solar panel community to interact closely with new research and identify how solar panels perform in northerly UK latitudes. The Farm will offer a comprehensive range of photovoltaic technology.

A large monocrystalline silicon installation of Sharp panels manufactured in Wrexham will feed back into the University’s electrical system and the national grid.  It is expected to generate around 8000 kW hr per annum.

Secondly, the Farm contains a test bed for new generation photovoltaic technologies, on a bespoke adaptable mounting system made by solar PV installation company EvoEnergy. Here different solar materials will be tested in real world conditions allowing unbiased comparison for solar professionals and consumer alike.

On officially opening the farm Nick Clegg highlighted how “Sheffield was at the forefront of the industrial revolution powered by coal; this project leaves Sheffield leading the next Solar evolution”

Dr Alastair Buckley, from the University’s Department of Physics, who is leading the Sheffield Solar Farm project, said, “The Sheffield Solar Farm is an important venture as it is bridging the gap between the research lab and how solar cells are used in the real world. We want to find out how new solar technologies perform here in Sheffield and compare them to the existing state-of-the-art technologies. This will help to align our research into next generation cell designs with real world requirement, as well as informing customers, policy makers and other researchers which technologies are best for the UK.”

Dr Kevin Hard, Managing Director for Photovoltaics installation company, EvoEnergy, who installed the Sheffield Solar Farm, said “The Sheffield solar farm is a great way of communicating the robustness of solar Photovoltaics for generating electricity. Developing the UK’s massive small-scale renewable energy potential will help us to tackle climate change, create new green jobs and industries, and increase our energy security.”

“Sheffield Solar Farm will provide one of the first publically available information sources in the UK on real world performance of the different PV technologies, and certainly the most comprehensive.” Dr Aidan Bell, Operations Director of EvoEnergy.