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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

First high voltage UK transmission-connected solar farm


Aerial view of Larks Green solar farm Photo: Cero Generation/Enso Energy
As the first solar farm to connect to the higher-voltage transmission network, the Larks Green project, near Bristol, will allow clean energy to be transported over greater distances across the UK and open a gateway for larger projects to connect to the grid

Photo: Cero Generation/Enso Energy

The newly commissioned Larks Green solar farm is the first in the UK to feed electricity directly into the country’s transmission network.

The 49.9 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) array, owned and operated by Cero Generation and Enso Energy, comprises 152,400 solar modules installed in a 200-acre plot near National Grid’s 400 kV Iron Acton substation near Bristol. It is co-located with a 49.5 MW/99 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).


By storing energy during peak power generation and exporting it back onto the grid when demand is high, the BESS will balance the solar farm’s intermittent energy production, maximise the site’s efficiency and allow a greater output of clean energy.


Until now, all of the UK’s solar farms have connected to the country’s distribution networks – the lower voltage regional grids that carry power from the high voltage transmission network to homes and businesses. However, ‘as the first to connect to the higher-voltage transmission network, the Larks Green solar farm will allow clean energy to be transported over greater distances across the country and opens a gateway for larger projects to connect to the grid’, state the project partners.


Larks Green will generate over 73,000 MWh/y – enough to power the equivalent of over 17,300 homes – and is expected to displace 20,500 t/y of CO2 compared to traditional energy production.


The project marks progress towards meeting the UK’s commitment to a fully decarbonised power system by 2035. The government’s recent Powering up Britain report reaffirmed its ambition for a fivefold increase in deployment of solar generation by 2035, with up to 70 GW installed – enough to power around 20 million homes.


‘Solar power has a critical role to play in the clean energy transition, so connecting the first PV array to our high voltage transmission network represents a key step on that journey,’ comments Roisin Quinn, Director of Customer Connections at National Grid.


She adds: ‘This net zero milestone comes as we’re investing in the biggest upgrade to the grid in a generation, enabling more home-grown renewable electricity to power the country than ever before. We want to connect more, and faster, and are working with government, Ofgem and industry to reform the connections process to accelerate Britain’s transition to a cleaner, more secure and affordable energy system.’


National Grid has invested some £5bn since 2018 to upgrade, adapt and maintain its transmission network, and plans to spend an additional £9bn in the five years to 2026, with further multibillion-pound investments beyond that to 2030.


Cero has 38 other standalone or co-located BESS projects in its UK pipeline within its partnership with Enso. The joint venture’s existing pipeline extends to 5 GW, and a further 5 GW of early-stage opportunities.