School children were invited to find out how sun can provide a brighter future for all at Dorset’s newest solar farm.
The youngsters from St James’ Church of England First School in Alderholt were invited by renewable energy supplier Good Energy to take a tour of the solar farm it is currently building at the nearby Crossroads Plantation.
Good Energy also welcomed 150 local residents and councillors to let them see the solar farm that has been in construction over the past two months.
Now near completion, the solar farm will begin operating later this summer and will generate enough clean electricity to power around 1,200 homes.
Hugo House, from Good Energy, said: “We were delighted to welcome the children and local community to our Crossroads solar farm.
“During their visit we were able to show them first-hand how a solar farm is built and how it will harness energy from the sun to create electricity. What’s brilliant is the children already understand that electricity comes from the sun, wind and water. They don’t consider yesterday’s fuels like coal and nuclear as our sources of energy.
“Our solar farms are making an important contribution towards Dorset’s renewable energy targets and we are very pleased local residents backed this project. With community support like this, we can take larger steps towards a future when the majority of our electricity comes from green and clean sources.”
Good Energy’s Crossroads solar farm has been built in two fields on the southern edge of Alderholt, near Fordingbridge.
Around 20,000 solar panels have been installed on the 11-hectare site.
The site is well-screened by existing trees and hedgerows and Good Energy will carry out additional planting to help further conceal the solar farm from view. When construction ends, a wildflower meadow will be sown between and around the solar panels, providing new habitat for ground nesting birds and pollinating insects, and sheep will graze the site.
As part of the scheme, Good Energy is donating at least £5,000 every year, to be spent in the community by local people, for the 30-year lifetime of the project. Good Energy is also providing Alderholt village hall and St James’ First School with their own solar PV systems.
Catherine Almond, a teacher and science co-ordinator at St James First School, said: “We had fantastic visit to the solar farm.
“The children found it very interesting to find out how electricity is made using solar power and they have learned a lot about renewable energy.
“We were all very impressed by the site.”
Maria Humby, Alderholt Parish Clerk, added: “The parish council was very pleased with the whole process of working with Good Energy.
“The key has been good communication and Good Energy have been considerate in the way they have engaged with both the parish council and local residents, dealing efficiently and effectively with any concerns and issues that have arisen resulting in minimal impact on the residents.
“It was amazing to see the solar farm in situ and it is good to know that Alderholt is helping in the future of renewable energy.
“We now look forward to continuing the relationship with them in both their management of the solar farm and with the community fund which will be of benefit to all Alderholt residents throughout the next 30 years.”