Firms plan 1.6GW of solar at UK coal-fired plants

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Developers have announced plans to add three solar plants with a combined capacity of 1.58GW in Lincolnshire, England, which would connect to the grid at the sites of the Cottam and West Burton A coal-fired plants.

Developer Low Carbon plans to build a 500MW site, the Gate Burton Energy Park, which would also include battery storage. Construction is expected to start in 2024 at the earliest, with the plant intended to connect to the transmission grid at the Cottam station. Low Carbon aims to submit an application for planning consent in 2023.

Separately, solar firm Island Green Power is developing a 600MW solar farm that would connect at the Cottam substation, with solar panels to be deployed across three separate areas.

Island Green Power is also planning a 480MW West Burton solar plant, which would have 20MW of storage and would be spread across four areas with a grid connection at the site of the West Burton station.

Construction of both of Island Green's plants is expected to begin in 2024. It intends to file for planning consent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The Cottam coal-fired station was decommissioned in 2019, while West Burton A is due to close next year. The solar plants then plan to take advantage of the freed-up connection capacity and existing transmission system infrastructure.

Both plants will aim to be designated as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) because of their size, which means they will need to submit development consent orders for planning. The UK government plans to update its guidance for designating NSIPs to better align them with its decarbonisation targets, including adding specific guidance for solar projects.

Only one solar park, the 350MW Cleve Hill development, has been granted consent through the NSIP process. The 150MW Little Crow Solar Park, which will also have 90MW of storage, has applied for planning, while three more solar farms with storage are expected to apply within the next year.


By Josh Evans

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