Solar Moves Isle Of Wight Toward Self-Sufficiency

While many of us have fantasized about leaving the busy world behind for the peace and tranquility of island living, but actually making that work is more difficult than we realize. For instance, how does one get power and plumbing on an isolated island? This problem has perplexed the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight for many years.

Located a couple of miles off the southern coast of Britain and covering an area about one-third the size of the city of Los Angeles, the island has few conventional power plants and so most of its electricity comes from the mainland. In a push for energy independence, solar panels have become more popular on the Island over the past few years. In fact, the Isle of Wight recently celebrated the completion of one of its largest solar power plants yet.

Isle of Wight Solar Plant

image via Mastervolt

The ground-mounted solar PV installation comprises over 7,000 LDK solar modules arranged in 80 strings to give it a generating capacity of 1.6 megawatts. Each string is equipped with a SunMaster CS20 inverter from Mastervolt. The solar power plant has its own 33,000-volt transformer for grid feed-in. Even though it is still small compared to other solar power plants on the global market, the new installation is one of the largest systems with string inverters in Britain.

Though it may seem like a drop in the bucket in terms of renewable energy production, the Isle of Wight’s new plant makes a significant statement about the feasibility of switching entire populations to solar power.

The Isle of Wight is a popular holiday destination, boasting scenic hiking paths and one of the world’s most famous sailing resorts off the city of Cowes. Additionally, the island’s annual festival attracts more than 50,000 visitors. Late last year, the U.K. government and private partners unveiled EcoIsland, an initiative aiming to make the Isle of Wight a net exporter of energy by 2020 while reducing energy bills for residents by 50 percent through solar, tidal, geothermal and wind power. Green jobs are also in the sights of the project, as is making the island’s Eco Centre a seat of green learning for visitors, UK schools and the local community.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

1 Comment

  • Reply April 10, 2012


    Sure would be nice if they put them on roof tops and over parking areas, isnstead of taking up prime farm land.

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