Wildlife Be Damned: Kent Marshland to be Carpeted with Solar Panels

  • Date: 02/07/18
  • David Rose, The Mail on Sunday

‘World’s biggest battery’ to be built in Britain as part of £400m plans to carpet a swathe of Kent marshland with almost a million solar panels.

  • Campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan for a solar energy farm
  • The battery would store 350MWhr –  with no fewer than 7,660 battery units

The proposed 890-acre farm, five times as big as Britain’s largest existing one in Wiltshire, lies outside Graveney, near Faversham in Kent, along the edge of the Swale estuary, an officially designated Biodiversity Operational Area.

This is home to rare nesting birds and surrounded by protected zones for wildlife.

Because it is also a flood plain, the project’s 989,000 solar panels will be mounted on frames 12ft tall – the height of a double-decker bus.

Green campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan to build a solar energy farm the size of 600 football pitches on marshland that provides a habitat for rare birds such as the marsh harrier
989,000 solar panels - each on the height of a double decker bus will cover an area equivalent to 600 football pitches. Pictured: An artist impression of what the site would look like

Green campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan to build a solar energy farm the size of 600 football pitches on marshland that provides a habitat for rare birds

The world's largest lithium-ion battery built by Tesla tycoon Elon Musk in South Australia. Mr Musk is thought to be behind the plans for the Graveney battery

Unlike most solar farms, Cleve Hill Solar Park’s panels will not all face south, but east and west in a continuous zig-zag.

The effect, say the scheme’s opponents, will be to turn green meadows into something resembling a colossal factory roof.

The proposed development would include the world’s biggest battery – almost three times as large as the current biggest, built last year by Tesla tycoon Elon Musk in South Australia.[…]

In all, the battery units will cover an area the size of a further 15 football pitches.

The battery is crucial to the scheme’s profitability.

By storing power generated during sunny periods in the middle of the day when demand and the changing electricity ‘spot price’ are low, the operators will be able to sell it to the National Grid at other times – such as the evening – when no solar power is being generated and prices are much higher.

The project is so large it will not be governed by the usual democratic planning process.

Instead, it will fall to Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark to decide whether to approve it as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project….

The developers, a partnership between Hive Energy and Wirsol, part of a firm based in Germany, boast that with a maximum output of 350MW – seven times the size of any existing solar farm in Britain – it will ‘power over 110,00 homes’.

However, they admit it will produce power only about 11 per cent of the time. The output of the nearby Medway gas-fired power station is 735MW, but this is continuous.

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