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Largest yet subsidy-free solar power project planned for Kent
The government has given development consent for what, when built, will be the UK’s largest solar park yet.
With a generating capacity of up to 350 MW, the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park – a solar PV array and electrical storage and connection installation – is to be built on the North Kent coast near Faversham.
Developer Cleve Hill Solar Park (CHSPL), a joint venture between experienced solar companies Wirsol Energy and Hive Energy, has stressed that the proposed scheme will not require any government subsidies and will connect to the National Grid’s 400 kV network less than 100 km from major electricity load centres in London. The scheme will also include one of the largest energy storage facilities in the world.
The site will feature east-west oriented solar panels, that capture energy in the morning and evening when electricity demand is often higher – this gives a 44% increase in electricity generation than panels that face south, says the developer.
The project was with the Planning Inspectorate for a year, including a sixmonth period of consultation with local stakeholders. CHSPL has built a series of environmental improvement measures into the project, including new hedgerow planting and limiting the coverage of the site to half of the total land area.
Meanwhile, NextEnergy Capital Group has partnered with Santander, which will provide a non-recourse debt financing structure of £100mn to cover the investment in two new solar power projects. The two projects are Llanwern, a 75 MW PV plant based in South Wales, and Strensham, a 40 MW plant in Worcestershire. The projects will be built on a subsidy-free basis.
Connection to the grid expected for both projects is expected in the final quarter of this year. Both will be contracted with power purchase agreements.
Last, the Solar Trade Association is calling for the government to commit to a target of 40 GW of solar capacity by 2030. Its new policy paper outlines how this can be achieved, calling for the government to focus on immediate priorities to boost the groundmounted, commercial rooftop and residential markets.