Solar farm sparks into life

Hywel Dda University Health Board’s first solar farm has been switched on in Carmarthen.

The installation of 1,098 x 455W panels not only provides sustainable electricity to power patient and administrative services based at the health board’s Hafan Derwen site at St David’s Park, but also contributes to reducing carbon emissions and promoting biodiversity in the area.

A 150kW battery has also been installed on the site, providing additional savings for the health board.

It is estimated the development will provide annual carbon savings of 110 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (tCO2e), and generate around 474,000 KWhrs of electricity annually, demonstrating the benefits of investing in renewable energy.

Around 52% of the electricity generated will be used on-site with the remainder being exported.

The health board is also committed to improving the quality of the natural environment and increasing people’s access to natural spaces around our community and hospital sites.

As a part of the development that covers just over an acre of land, the biodiversity of the site has been enhanced to provide access to natural green space for staff and patients. This area includes enhanced planting, seating areas, and information boards explaining the benefits of each of the plants to the local environment.

Fruit trees and over 350 wildflower bulbs have been planted and will provide an additional habitat for wildlife, including pollinators and other insects which hopefully will lead to an increase of bird and bat species at the site

Lee Davies, Director of Strategy and Planning at Hywel Dda UHB said: “We’re proud to have switched on our first solar farm, which will help power our Hafan Derwen site in Carmarthen and support our commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

“This project also demonstrates the health board’s commitment to improving the natural environment and access to green spaces.

“The creation of a green space is a fantastic initiative providing staff, and patients with an outdoor space to enjoy and learn about the local environment. The planting of fruit trees and wildflower bulbs will not only enhance the area visually, but also provide a habitat for wildlife, contributing to the conservation of the local ecosystem.

“Overall, this project is an excellent example of how sustainable energy practices can benefit both the environment and local communities.”

The 0.5MW solar farm is a part of the health board’s decarbonisation strategy with funding secured from Welsh Government and early-stage feasibility, business case, procurement and funding application support provided by the Welsh Government Energy Service.”

Georgia Mostyn, Development Manager at the Welsh Government Energy Service, said: “The Energy Service were pleased to support the Health Board in the development of this exciting project. It is an excellent example of making the best use of vacant land for the development of renewable energy to provide onsite carbon and cost savings. The addition of the battery to provide further savings is particularly innovative for such a project and we look forward to seeing the benefits the solar farm will bring.”

In 2019, the Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency. It has a long-term target to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and an ambition for the Public Sector to lead the way and be net zero by 2030.

The solar farm project at Hafan Derwen is just one of the many steps the health board is taking towards addressing the Climate Emergency.

To date, roof mounted photovoltaic panels have been installed at a number of sites across Hywel Dda including Amman Valley Hospital, Bro Cerwyn, Bronglais Hospital, Milford Haven Health Centre, Pembroke Dock Health Centre, Llandovery, South Pembroke Hospital and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.

An air source heat pump has also been installed on the Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and solar car ports are currently being installed at South Pembroke Hospital. The health board will continue to explore further carbon reduction opportunities in the future.

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