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Updated: Jan 31

Solar panels in a field

At SUMO, we have seen a marked increase in the need for surveys for solar farms in recent months. And, whether 0.5ha or 100ha, SUMO has a bespoke suite of services to assist with planning, risk mitigation, detailed design and construction of your solar farm.

In fact, SUMO can make it as easy as 1, 2, 3...

STEP 1: Planning = SUMO Topographic Survey

We can combine a traditional topographic survey, producing 2D or 3D drawings for planning with the additional option of aerial topography where large landscapes are captured by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s/Drones).

This traditional terrestrial survey will provide a full and comprehensive topographic survey where our surveyors aim to map all accessible features visible above ground. This includes basic site features such as existing buildings, walls, fences, surface changes, vegetation, tree positions and utility service covers. We will survey ground levels at a nominal interval (typically 5 – 20m depending on the requirements of the site), as well as any significant changes in ground levels such as banking or slopes, to produce a comprehensive ground profile.

Topographic Survey of a large Solar Farm

Above: Traditional Topographic Survey of a large Solar Farm.

Geospatial data captured from the air provides georeferenced and highly accurate digital terrain models, digital surface models and orthorectified mapping of large areas. This output is equivalent to LiDAR with the benefit of increased resolution at 1 - 5cm, where LiDAR is typically 1m to 2m, or 25cm at best (when available). Textured digital elevation models, like the example below, can help to understand and visualise the landscape. This is also a complementary technique to Step 2: the Geophysical survey.

Digital Elevation Models (DEMs)

Above: Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) of archaeological features beneath modern landscapes

STEP 2: Risk Mitigation = SUMO Geophysical Survey

As most solar farms are in rural locations, there is often a need to address the issue of potential archaeology on site. Geophysical surveys provide a rapid, cost effective method of evaluating archaeological remains without excavation. The typical targets found are settlement sites and ditches; pits, post holes, field systems and enclosures; buried megaliths, plus kilns and industrial sites.

Plan view of magnetometer data

Above: The above plan view of magnetometer data shows two rectilinear enclosures, of which the southern-most may be a cursus monument. A north-east / south-west aligned field system has been identified, along with a post-medieval field boundary, evidence of ploughing and modern underground services. A trenching strategy can now be devised, targeting anomalies in the geophysics. However, in many cases the geophysics reveals no archaeology, which may remove the requirement for any intrusive archaeological investigation altogether.

STEP 3: Detailed Design and Construction = SUMO Utility Survey

Whilst an extremely detailed survey is required in city centres. On rural sites we conduct a perimeter survey only and any services that are located, are traced across the site and their location recorded. This means that you get all the utility information that you need without spending a fortune on a survey which doesn’t give you any more information!

Using the latest detection technology including electro-magnetics, signal induced threading and ground penetrating radar, SUMO can locate metal pipes, plastic pipes, drainage systems, electricity cables, telecoms and fibre optic cables. The survey data references the ordnance survey grid and level datum as standard. The drawing can also be supplied to a specified grid & level datum, as well as the option to overlay it on an existing topographical survey.

Fully understand your site. It’s as easy as 1,2,3…

And following these steps will help you to meet your planning requirements, mitigate your risk and create the best and most cost-effective design for your site: -

SUMO surveys

Finally, don’t forget that SUMO can supply these services independently or as part of a package.

We are here to offer advice and solutions, not just a survey: so, if in doubt, pick up the phone and speak to us!


Want to learn more?

Please pick up the phone and speak to Simon Haddrell or Claire Rose on 01684 592266.

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