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HomeNewsConstruction Begins On Kent's 890 Acre Solar Plant

Construction Begins On Kent’s 890 Acre Solar Plant

The UK’s largest solar and battery storage plant has begun construction after the company developing it won the highest government subsidy yet for a sun-powered energy scheme.

Project Fortress, which is being built on 890 acres of prime countryside at Cleve Hill near Faversham in Kent, was granted development consent in May 2020. It was the first solar farm to be approved as a nationally significant infrastructure project. Once operational, it is forecast to generate enough renewable power each year to meet the needs of about 100,000 UK homes – which will just about cover the ‘new builds’ in the area!

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, the investment manager behind the farm, is being supported by the government’s Contracts for Difference (CFD) scheme with a 15-year deal in which it will be paid a fixed price for the electricity generated, with revenues adjusted for inflation and the cost paid by consumers through their energy bills. The price is equivalent to £56 a megawatt hour on 40 per cent of the output.

The scheme is set to be completed and connected to the National Grid early in 2024. It is the largest under construction in the UK, although an even bigger project is planned by Photovolt Development Partners at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire that could provide enough electricity to power 330,000 homes.

Quinbrook has built more than 130 renewable projects in the UK and recently won planning approval for a 230MW battery project on a former coal-fired power station in Wales.

Rory Quinlan, co-founder and managing partner of Quinbrook, said the UK had “historically been very generous to renewable energy projects with a secure regime that has been operating since the 1990s”.

He said “It remains a very attractive market for renewable providers,” he added. “The UK government is supportive through the CFD auction and the capacity market mechanism and there is a lot of corporate and social pressure for the UK to decarbonise.”

The UK generated 13.5 terawatt hours from solar last year — about 4.3 per cent of total electricity generation — and there is at present capacity for 15 gigawatts, according to trade body Solar Energy UK.

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