Plans for the largest solar farm UK, the 350-MW Cleve Hill Solar Park in Kent, have been unveiled by developers in Kent.
The £400-million project is expected to cover 365 hectares (900 acres) of land. If the plant were to get the green light it could provide electricity for over 100,000 homes via a huge substation that has already been constructed on the land to service an existing offshore wind farm.
The site is located half a mile from the Kent coast, and 150,000 cubic metres of earth and rocks had to be excavated and 10,000 trees planted to mask the substation from public view.
However, due to its size it first needs to go through a long public consultation process and gain the approval of the government’s business, energy and industrial strategy minister, Greg Clark.
Local environmental groups claim that the solar array is too large and a waste of agricultural land.
Speaking to regional news website Kent Online, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) said it was concerned about the huge scale of the project.
According to Kent CPRE branch director Hilary Newport, power for new homes should be provided through individual solar panels, rather than by taking up such large tracts of agricultural land.
However defending the plans, One of the partners in the project, Hive Energy’s Hugh Brennan who spoke to Kent Online, while planning is at the very early stages, the aim is to deliver the first non-subsidised renewables project of this scale.
The proposed power project will be developed by Cleve Hill, a joint venture formed by Hive Energy and its partner Wirsol Energy.
It will be the UK’s largest solar farm by far; the current biggest solar farm of 69MW is located in Wiltshire.
The mega project will cover an area equivalent to over 400 football pitches.
According to experts, a power plant of the size would need balancing to avoid grid disruption; battery storage is therefore being considered for the project.