There has been a lot of buzz among green campaigners ever since the plans to develop a #solar field the size of approximately 600 football pitches were announced. The £400 million project will be built on a marshland that provides nesting grounds for some rare birds, including the marsh harrier.
The project proposes building on a farm that spans around 890 acres of marshland. The farm is located just outside Graveney and is placed right along Swale estuary’s edge. The United Kingdom has awarded the status of ”Biodiversity Operational area” to this zone because it is home to several rare birds and because it is surrounded by zones where wildlife is protected.
The farm is situated on a flood plain, so the solar panels will have to be placed on top of frames which will be around 12 feet tall. This is the size of a double-decker bus. In addition, the solar panels will not all be placed facing the south. Instead, they will face west and east as well, in a zig-zag way. The problem is that the frames and the positioning of the solar panels will make the plains look like the roof of a huge factory, according to green campaigners who oppose the project.
The solar farm will generate a huge amount of #energy daily. And all this energy has to be stored someway. This means the solar field will be complemented by a huge #solar battery. According to the project, the solar battery will be the biggest in the world. It will be three times larger than the battery Tesla built in 2017 in South Australia.
The South Australia solar battery has a staggering capacity of 129 megawatt hours. This means that the battery about to be built in Graveney will be able to store roughly 350 megawatt hours. The battery will have more than 7,600 individual solar battery units and will span an area the size of approximately 15 football pitches. Because of its size and complexity, the battery is likely going to be built by #Elon Musk. After all, not many companies or persons possess this kind of technology and this kind of money.
However, Tesla has stated that it is not in any kind of discussions with any parties interested in building such a big solar battery.
But why does the developer of the solar farm need such a big battery? The answer is simple: for profit. Without a battery, the #solar energy would need to be sold while it is being generated at the spot price. During the day, the spot price for solar energy is low because all solar plants are generating electricity and selling it.
The Need for a Battery
However, solar energy instantly becomes a lot more expensive in the evening when most other solar plants are inactive. This is why a battery is very important for the solar farm developer. The company can sell the solar energy to the National Grid at a much higher price, making a significant profit.
Because the project is so massive, it will not go through the regular planning process. It has been classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which means it will be up to Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary, to approve or reject it.
The solar farm and solar battery will be developed by two companies: Wirsol and Hive Energy. The companies boast about the fact that 350 MW of their solar farm will be able to power more than 110,000 homes in #Britain. In fact, the solar project has a maximum output which is a whopping 7 times larger than any other solar plant in the United Kingdom. The bad news is that initial reports suggest the solar plant will be operational just 11% of the time.
Their main competitor, the nearby gas-powered plant, outputs a maximum of 735 MW. However, this output is continuous. Also, the gas-powered plant is just 15 acres in size (the solar farm is projected to be closer to 890 acres in size).
Because of the size and scope of the solar project and because the area where it is set to be developed is home to several endangered species (such as the marsh harrier), several green activism groups have taken initiative. In fact, many environmentalists who would normally have no beef with a solar energy project have begun to criticize it. After all, solar energy is still green energy.
According to various activists and environmentalism groups, the solar project will thrash the countryside and waste farmland that could otherwise be put to good use. In addition, activists have warned that the solar farm will cause irreparable loss to the habitat and to its species. The area where the farm needs to be built is one of the most fragile in Kent, according to activists.
Working Hard For the Best Solutions
The companies responsible for the solar project have responded to the concerns of the green activists and various other environmental groups. According to Hive Energy, the company has been working hard to minimize the impact of its solar farm on the environment. According to a company spokesperson, the sheep will graze among the solar panels and the nests of the marsh harrier will be left untouched. In addition, the company has stated its willingness to work with the various conservation groups to try and find a solution.
Beyond the problems posed by the solar farm and the battery to the environment, there is good news as well. Regardless of who builds the battery, it will be the biggest in the world. The fact that a battery of this size can be built is an achievement. Storing solar energy has been a provocation for the industry for years. Without batteries to hold the energy harvested by solar panels during the day, all the energy would need to be dumped into the grid right away. With capable batteries, the energy can be stored and used in the evening or at night, meaning the grid will not have to rely as much on coal or gas-fired plants – and this is a big win for the green energy activists. Keep following solar news to learn more about these huge solar plans in Britain, and across the globe!