A monster solar farm – the largest in the UK – is being planned for Cleve Hill in Kent
An historic town on the north Kent coast could soon become home to the UK’s largest solar farm.
Developers Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy have released proposals for the giant solar park to be built in Cleve Hill, just outside Faversham, that would cover a staggering 890 acres – larger than London’s Hyde Park and even Central Park in New York.
In particular, the proposed site is 1.2 miles northeast of Faversham and three miles west of Whitstable to the northwest of the village of Graveney.
If successful, the project could have a generating capacity of more than 350MW by the time it goes live in 2020, and this would be enough to power around 110,000 homes a year – the equivalent number of homes in Swale and Canterbury Districts combined. By comparison, the UK’s largest current solar farm in Wiltshire produces 69MW. Solar farms in the UK typically top out at around 20MW.
READ NEXT: What is solar power?
Due to this mammoth capacity the project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which means it will be approved by the Secretary of State for BEIS, Greg Clark, after consultation with residents and local authorities.
As part of the proposal, Cleve Hill Solar Park will need an electrical connection infrastructure and a substation, which the two companies said they intend to connect to the existing National Grid substation.
Next to the site is is a 150/400kV substation that already connects the London Array offshore wind farm past the Thames Estuary to the north and there are eight 400kV pylons and power lines across the proposed site.
Beyond meeting much-needed energy requirements, the proposals claim Cleve Hill Solar Park could bring £27.25 million investment to Swale and Kent over the next 25 years, and, based on current estimates, could generate £1,080,000 in revenue for Kent and Swale councils.
There is a strong chance the plans could be approved given the UK’s government major push towards clean energy and renewables in recent months.
In July, Clark and BEIS announced a government investment drive worth £246 million into cleaner battery technology, under the Faraday Challenge project.
Alongside the Industrial Strategy speech made by the business secretary, the government and Ofgem also unveiled its ‘flexible energy’ plan designed to give homes and businesses more control over their energy use and support innovative new technologies as part of the project.
Last month, at an event in Olympic Park, Clark officially released the government’s Clean Growth Strategy outlining the UK’s plans to reduce our reliance on carbon and promote renewable and sustainable energy sources to help grow the UK economy. And then, E.ON announced the UK’s first industrial-scale battery plant in Sheffield, boasting 10MW: the equivalent power capacity of half a million phone batteries.