Hive Energy has confirmed it is the developer behind ambitious plans for a huge solar farm on the north Kent coast, UK, which could have a final generation capacity in excess of 350MW.

Hive has partnered with EPC firm Wirsol, and the duo has formed the SPV Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd to advance the project.

Should the project complete, Cleve Hill will be almost five times the size of the UK’s current largest solar farm; the 70MW DTTC Lyneham array completed in 2015.

It will be located between the Kent towns of Faversham and Whitstable in the south of the country.

The project, dubbed Cleve Hill Solar Park, will also be designed differently to standard solar farms in the UK to provide the maximum amount of electricity. Panels are to be orientated in an east-to-west fashion, rather than south-facing, and will also be mounted at a shallower angle than usual to produce a more consistent generation curve.

Battery storage will also be incorporated into the design to provide grid balancing services to the grid.

As with any new utility-scale solar farm in the UK, the project is go ahead without any subsidy support from the government.

But due to its significant size, Cleve Hill stands to be the first in the UK to be deemed as a National Significant Infrastructure Project. It will therefore require approval from Greg Clarke, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, by means of a development consent order (DCO).

Hive stressed that plans were at an early stage with the first tranche of community consultations set to take place later this month. Further consultations will take place in December, with a secondary phase to follow in early 2018.

Hive expects to submit final plans for its DCO next summer.

Hive’s Hugh Brennan said: “The Cleve Hill Solar Park is a pioneering scheme that aims to optimise the technological developments in solar energy. Our ambition is to deliver the first non-subsidised renewables project of this scale, delivering low cost, clean, home-grown energy to power UK households.”

The developer has turned to Pinsent Masons for its planning advice and employed environmental specialist Arcus to conduct a full environmental impact assessment on the site. Electrical consultant Xero Energy will be tasked with providing grid connection, battery storage and electrical engineering support. 

Tags: finance, solar pv, pv power plants, uk, ground-mount, utility-scale

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