If approved, Gate Burton will be one of an emerging class of NSIP solar projects. Image: Getty.

Low Carbon has opened a consultation into its 500MW Gate Burton solar and energy storage park in Lincolnshire.

The energy park will sit on one site, located in the West Lindsay District near Gate Burton, Knaith Park and Willingham-by-Stow. It will utilise an existing substation, at Cottam, Nottinghamshire.

It is expected to be one of two solar farms that will benefit from capacity availability at this substation, due to the closure of EDF’s coal-fired Cottam Power Station in 2019. The other is a 600MW solar project being eyed by Island Green Power.

Along with the solar generation, Gate Burton will include an on-site energy storage system, which will provide balancing services, allowing generation to be stored when demand is low and exported when it is high.

Running from 11 January to the 18 February 2022, the local community is now invited to share their views on the proposed site, its layout and three broad route corridors it could use to connect to the national grid, as well as potential sustainable projects and initiatives it could support.

“This is a major milestone for the project. We have reached a point in our development process where we are able to share details of our early-stage proposals for Gate Burton Energy Park and start a conversation with local communities to understand their thoughts on the scheme,” said Mike Rutgers, development director at Low Carbon.

There are three potential routes for connection to the national grid for Gate Burton that are involved in the consultation. Image: Low Carbon.

Due to exceeding 50MW, Gate Burton is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), and must therefore submit an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate.

Low Carbon is expecting this submission and the following examination to take between two and three years. Should this be successful, it expects construction to start no later than 2025.

Gate Burton is one of a number of NSIP solar projects to emerge over the last few years, although currently just one solar project has been granted consent through the NSIP process, the 350MW Cleve Hill Solar Farm, which has been acquired by Quinbrook and renamed Project Fortress.

There are four other projects registered in the NSIP, including the 120MW Little Crow Solar Farm put forward by Hampshire-based INRG Solar in 2018, Longfield Solar Energy Farm in Essex registered in 2020 and the 163MW Oaklands Solar Farm registered by BayWa r.e. in September 2021.

The final solar project registered in the NSIP is also based in Lincolnshire, with Ecotricity looking to develop the Heckington Fen Solar Park.

Gate Burton will be Low Carbon’s first NSIP project, but the company has been active in the UK market for a number of years. Recently, its work has included partnering with Tesco to develop three solar projects with an annual capacity of 130GWh, and working with Low Carbon Hub to build the UK’s largest community solar site Ray Valley Solar farm, which at 19MW is expected to generate 18GWh per year.