On May 4, the first photovoltaic solar farm to connect directly to the UK’s National Grid transmission network went online.
Larks Green is a 200-acre solar farm located on the Severn Vale next to the hamlet of Itchington, to the north of Bristol, and with the addition of a big battery energy storage facility, it’s being heralded as a game-changer in creating a future where solar power is a consistent supplier of much of Britain’s electricity.
The 50 MW solar farm is owned and operated by Cero Generation and Enso Energy and was connected to the National Grid’s Iron Acton substation.
The solar farm also includes a 49.5MW / 99MWh battery energy storage system (BESS). By storing energy during peak power generation and exporting it back onto the grid when demand is high, the BESS will balance intermittent energy production, maximize the site’s efficiency, and allow a greater output of clean energy.
Larks Green solar farm will generate over 73,000 MWh annually. That’s enough to power the equivalent of over 17,300 homes and will displace 20,500 tons of CO2 each year compared to traditional energy production.
“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, according to EcoWatch.
Until now, all solar farms in the UK have connected to the country’s distribution networks, the lower voltage regional grids that carry power from the National Grid’s high voltage transmission network, out to homes and businesses.
The announcement marks progress towards meeting the UK’s commitment to a fully decarbonized power system by 2035. The government’s recent Powering up Britain report reaffirmed its ambition for a five-fold increase in deployment of solar generation by 2035, with up to 70 GW installed – enough to power around 20 million homes.