Project Information

Why are we developing the solar project?

  • West Lothian Council signed the Climate Change Declaration in 2007 and declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019.
  • The Scottish Government has set a target date of 2045 for reaching net-zero emissions.  The Climate Change Act 2019 means that Scotland has some of the most stringent statutory targets in the world.
  • The importance of taking action to address the Climate Emergency is recognised at a local, national and international level.  Projects such as Aithrie Solar will help to achieve these targets.
  • Aithrie has good levels of solar irradiance and it has power-users and new urban/residential development in need of green electricity.

Will solar power generation work in West Lothian?

  • Solar panels need daylight and sunshine, not high temperatures, so solar panels can and do work well in Scotland – especially in the summer months and the long daylight hours in Scotland.
  • Solar can help balance the grid with wind farms being more productive in the winter months when Scotland has higher than average wind speeds.

What does the project consist of?

  • The project comprises approximately 120 acres of land
  • The project will consist of around 82,500 panels, with a power generation capacity of 29.9MW AC and associated battery storage (BESS) in order to store & supply power when the sun doesn’t shine.
  • The solar panels will be set on lightweight frames with a minimum ground clearance of 0.6m and a maximum panel height of up to 3m (reduced from 3.5m in response to consultation feedback).
  • The power will be converted from DC to AC power via onsite inverters and a transformer and will increase the output voltage to 33kV and allow the site to connect to the grid at the Broxburn Substation nearby. There may also be opportunities for large local power-users to connect directly by “private wire”.
  • The area under the panels can safely be used for grazing small livestock such as sheep, since the panels will be 0.6m above the ground.

How does it work?

  • Solar panels are made out of photovoltaic cells (which is why generating electricity with solar panels is also called solar PV) that convert the sun’s energy into electricity.
  • Photovoltaic cells are sandwiched between layers of semi-conducting materials such as silicone. Each layer has different electronic properties that energise when hit by photons from sunlight, creating an electric field. This is known as the photoelectric effect – and this creates the electrical current.
  • Solar panels generate a Direct Current of electricity. This is then passed through an inverter to convert it into an Alternating Current, which can then be fed into the National Grid or directly to large local power users.

How long will the project take to develop?

A planning application was submitted for consideration by West Lothian Council in December 2023 and consented in March 2024.  We aim to have the project operational and supplying power by mid-2025.

The development of the site will help to deliver West Lothian Council’s Net-Zero targets:

  • West Lothian Council aims to achieve a net-zero position by 2045 at the latest, in line with Scottish Government targets
  • Council emission targets see a 61% reduction in emission on the 2013/14 baseline by 2028 and 86% by 2040
  • Progress against the council’s emissions targets will be reviewed annually as part of their annual Climate Change Report and updated every five years

Why do we need the project?

The UK is transitioning to zero and low carbon sources of power. All coal fired power stations have to close by 2025 meaning over a quarter of the UK’s energy generation needs to be replaced. The UK’s climate change ambitions are amongst the highest in Europe and the aim to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is set in law.

By 2050 we could also use 80% more electricity than we do today. For example, the growth in electric vehicle ownership has grown thirty-fold and is set to rise with the abolition of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Currently, the UK’s electricity prices are among the highest in Europe and the instability in Eastern Europe means that this is unlikely to change anytime soon.  As a result, the UK needs to find ways of generating more of its own affordable, renewable and clean electricity such as that generated by Aithrie Solar Park.

How will local wildlife and habitat benefit?

Conserving and enhancing biodiversity throughout the area is important for the health of the environment, wildlife and communities.  The design approach for this solar farms means that it can make significant contributions to local ecology and levels of biodiversity.

It is proposed to create a wildflower meadow between the panels, with this managed through an appropriately timed mowing or grazing regime. Additionally, there will be planting of native hedgerow along the north and north eastern edge of the solar site as shown in the concept design.

Hedgerows will help to create a species-rich environment, which will be valuable to birds, bats and other mammals within the development’s setting, by providing further foraging opportunities and connectivity for species migration.

How will the local area benefit?

Aside from helping West Lothian move to a zero carbon future, the project will represent a significant investment in the local economy. Ampyr Solar Europe is establishing a skills, supply chain and employment plan and aims to utilise local suppliers for equipment and services wherever possible.