Fiskerton II-A (above) is just one of many projects in the East Midlands being developed in the region. Image: Shanghai Electric.
Fiskerton II-A (above) is just one of many projects in the East Midlands being developed or completed in the region. Image: Shanghai Electric.

Renewable energy developer Downing Renewable Developments (DRD) has unveiled plans today (15 February) to develop a 750MW solar and co-located storage project in Lincolnshire.

The Meridian Solar Farm, if approved, will be located on land to the south of Spalding and be classified as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) due to having a generation capacity that exceeds 50MW.

As such, a development consent order (DCO) must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and be decided by the secretary of state for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho. This will be sent when the proposals are fully completed.

A statement made by the company confirmed that early design works are currently being developed ahead of public consultation, with biodiversity opportunities to be included. It is hoped that the solar farm will be able to deliver a net gain of at least 10%.

Glasgow-headquartered DRD will also undertake an environmental impact assessment, which will be informed via a scoping opinion from the secretary of state. Public consultations are planned to begin in Spring 2024.

Tony Gannon, head of DRD, said: “As one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy, a fivefold increase in solar capacity is anticipated by 2035 in the government’s Energy Security Strategy. This cannot be achieved through rooftop and brownfield solar installations alone and, as such, projects such as Meridian Solar Farm will become essential to the UK’s energy mix.”

The East Midlands continues to see a surge in solar-NSIPs

The East Midlands has become somewhat of a hotspot for large-scale solar developments in the UK. In 2023, renewable energy company Low Carbon unveiled plans to develop a 400MW solar project in the county.

Dubbed Beacon Fen Energy Park, the project is anticipated to begin construction “no earlier than 2026” and has grid access secured through an existing connection at Bicker Fen.

EDF Renewables and Luminous Energy are also exploring the development of an 800MW solar NSIP in North Kesteven, Lincolnshire. The Springwell Solar Farm project, which would feature co-located energy storage, will finish its consultation on 22 February.

Turning our attention to Lincolnshire’s Westerly neighbour, Nottinghamshire has also seen a sharp rise in large-scale solar developments, with the county set to house the UK’s first 1GW solar NSIP project. Being developed by Elements Green, the early-stage plans for the Great North Road Solar Park project follow in the footsteps of Ørsted, which also announced plans last year to develop a 740MW solar project in the county – its first venture into the UK solar market.

Solar Power Portal sat down with Mark Noone, project director for the Great North Road Solar Park, late last year to learn more about the scheme and why so many projects are being developed in the area.

Noone exclusively told Solar Power Portal: “The story of this one, really, is that the grid capacity was there. We made an application into an area with existing infrastructure in place so that we’re plugging holes that are required in that infrastructure.

“This is where you’ve traditionally had a coal-fired power station that has shut down. This is now a clear hole in the national grid infrastructure that we are plugging with something renewable where it once was polluting, meaning infrastructure build is minimised.”

Solar Power Portal’s publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 4-5 June 2024 in London. The event will explore UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market, and much more. For more information, go to the website.