2023 has been a big year in the UK’s journey to net zero, as new renewable assets come online, energy suppliers diversify their consumer offerings and groundbreaking legislation is passed.
As the year draws to a close, Solar Power Portal takes a look back at some of the most significant decarbonisation stories of 2023.
SSE Renewables – the renewable energy IPP arm of UK utility SSE – commenced construction of Monk Fryston, a 320MW/640MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), which could be the largest under-construction in the country.
Following the final investment decision made in November, construction will commence on the project, which will located next to a substation operated by the National Grid in the village of Monk Fryston.
In Q4 2023 the UK solar power purchase agreement (PPA) prices saw some of the biggest increases in Europe, jumping by 30% to £68.64/MWh on average.
The UK market was boosted by the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions, in which solar was able to auction in from 2022 for the first time since 2015.
According to LevelTen Energy’s February PPA Index report, both the UK and Italy saw the largest PPA increase in Q4.
April saw a significant success for the UK’s solar capacity, as Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners confirmed that Cleve Hill Solar Park had started construction.
Set to be the largest solar and battery storage project in the UK, the Kent-based Clevel Hill will consist of 373MW of solar and over 150MW of battery energy storage. Featuring 880,000 solar panels, the project is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2024.
UK-based renewables developer Elements Green unveiled early-stage plans for a 1GW solar project dubbed the Great North Road Solar Park, this October.
Located to the northwest of Newark-on-Trent, the project has already secured a grid connection to National Grid’s existing substation at Staythorpe, Nottinghamshire.
In an announcement made in November, the National Grid unveiled plans to streamline 10GW of BESS capacity that is currently waiting for a grid connection.
According to the National Grid 19 BESS projects, worth around 10GW, will be offered dates to plug-in, on average, four years earlier than their current agreement, as part of a new approach which removes the need for non-essential engineering works prior to connecting storage.
As of September the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) confirmed that the UK installed more small-scale solar power systems in 2023 than in all of 2022.
MCS data showed a new annual record for 2023 with 138,336 solar PV installations since 2022, up from 137,926 last year, which trade body Solar Energy UK said was “a record for the post-subsidy industry”.