A partnership is drawing up plans for the largest solar farm in the UK, set for a former airfield in Swindon.

The collaboration between the Science Museum and the city council is making proposals for a 40MW solar farm in Wroughton in Wiltshire – located to the south of Swindon.

The city council’s wholly owned company Swindon Commercial Services Ltd will install the solar panels. So far, the company has not endeavoured to conduct such a large project, having only installed photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of colleges, leisure centres and residential accommodation.

Some 160,000 solar panels will feature on the 200-acre site. It is hoped that the £50 million project will receive funding soon and begin its aims to generate 38GWh per year, delivering energy to approximately 12,000 homes.

The recently announced Renewables Obligation, set out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will help the project earn £2 million per year from energy suppliers.

In addition to the sale of the electricity, the £2 million will come from the rate the government has set as a subsidy price. Energy suppliers will be required to supply a certain amount of renewable power per year, set as a percentage against their output. This can be purchased from projects like solar farms at a premium rate.

It is not the first instance of a solar farm being proposed for a former airfield. A 35MW solar park has been proposed for an airfield in Norfolk, whilst Suffolk has also submitted airfield based plans for a 30MW farm.

Swindon Commercial Services Ltd has applied to be subcontractor and maintenance provider for the Wiltshire project, in addition to its role as developer. As the project is much larger than any the firm has previously undertaken, a different kind of business model is required. 

When speaking to Energy and Environmental Management, project manager James Owens said:

"We don't want to be like other commercial developers, but instead work with civic and charitable landowners to be much more community minded and ethical in our operations".