A Solar Farm Connects Directly to the UK Grid for the First Time
This week, the first photovoltaic (PV) solar farm to connect directly to the UK’s National Grid transmission network started generating power. The project links Cero Generation and Enso Energy’s 49.9 megawatt (MW) Larks Green solar array to the National Grid’s 400 kilovolt Iron Acton substation near Bristol, England, a National Grid press release said.
The renewable energy power source will include a 49.5 MW battery energy storage system (BESS) capable of generating 99 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity.
“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,” said Roisin Quinn, director of National Grid Customer Connections, in the press release.
The solar plant is the first-of-its-kind tandem solar and battery system and could help the UK come closer to meeting its 2035 carbon goals.
“Completion of this project is a major milestone for renewable energy in the UK and provides further evidence that co-located solar and battery storage projects connecting directly to the transmission network will play an important role in the delivery of the UK’s net zero plans,” said Ian Harding, co-founder and director of Enso Energy, as Power Technology reported.
The solar farm sits on 200 acres, is made up of 152,400 solar modules and will generate more than 73,000 MWh each year — enough to power more than 17,300 homes.
The innovative solar-to-grid connection will offset 20,500 tons of carbon dioxide annually when compared to fossil fuel energy production.
Using the BESS to store energy during peak production times will mean more available clean power when demand is high and ensure maximum efficiency of the site.
Before the Larks Green solar array was connected to the National Grid, solar farms in the UK relied on the country’s lower voltage regional grids to bring power to residences and businesses.
By connecting solar energy directly to the National Grid, clean energy can be transported farther, and this project opens the door for bigger projects to be connected to them in the future.
“As the country’s first solar project to connect to the transmission network, it represents true innovation that paves the way for others to follow and enables the rapid deployment of much more clean energy,” said Marta Martinez Queimadelos, CEO of Cero Generation, in the press release.
A recent report from energy security plan Powering Up Britain reaffirmed the government’s goal of a five-fold increase in solar energy deployment by 2035, including the installation of as much as 70 gigawatts of capacity — enough to power about 20 million homes.
According to the press release, the design and layout of the solar farm and BESS will include local wildlife resources, including the planting of woodlands to provide food and shelter for an array of protected species, and will result in “net biodiversity gain.”
“We’re proud to be celebrating a major step in the UK’s renewable energy mission and in our journey into battery storage, recognising the vast benefits of co-location in moving the green transition forward and contributing to our mission of delivering a net-zero future, for this and every generation,” Queimadelos said.
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