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Elon Musk ‘to build the world’s biggest battery’ in Britain as part of £400m plans to carpet a swathe of Kent marshland with almost a million solar panels

July 1, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Patsy Lacey

 

Green campaigners fight giant solar farm set to trash Kent marshland:

From the Mail:

 

image

Green campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan to build a solar energy farm the size of 600 football pitches on marshland that provides a habitat for rare birds such as the marsh harrier.

The proposed 890-acre farm, five times as big as Britain’s largest existing one in Wiltshire, lies outside Graveney, near Faversham in Kent, along the edge of the Swale estuary, an officially designated Biodiversity Operational Area. This is home to rare nesting birds and surrounded by protected zones for wildlife.

Because it is also a flood plain, the project’s 989,000 solar panels will be mounted on frames 12ft tall – the height of a double-decker bus.

Campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan for a solar energy farm. Pictured the proposed site of the farm

Campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan for a solar energy farm. Pictured the proposed site of the farm

989,000 solar panels - each on the height of a double decker bus will cover an area equivalent to 600 football pitches. Pictured: An artist impression of what the site would look like

989,000 solar panels – each on the height of a double decker bus will cover an area equivalent to 600 football pitches. Pictured: An artist impression of what the site would look like

Unlike most solar farms, Cleve Hill Solar Park’s panels will not all face south, but east and west in a continuous zig-zag. The effect, say the scheme’s opponents, will be to turn green meadows into something resembling a colossal factory roof.

The proposed development would include the world’s biggest battery – almost three times as large as the current biggest, built last year by Tesla tycoon Elon Musk in South Australia. This has a capacity of 129 megawatt hours. The Graveney battery, also likely to be built by Mr Musk, will be capable of storing 350MWhr, with no fewer than 7,660 individual battery units.

In all, the battery units will cover an area the size of a further 15 football pitches.

The battery is crucial to the scheme’s profitability. By storing power generated during sunny periods in the middle of the day when demand and the changing electricity ‘spot price’ are low, the operators will be able to sell it to the National Grid at other times – such as the evening – when no solar power is being generated and prices are much higher.

The Cleve Hill sites 989,000 solar panels will be mounted on frames 12ft tall ¿ the height of a double-decker bus

The project is so large it will not be governed by the usual democratic planning process. Instead, it will fall to Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark to decide whether to approve it as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

The developers, a partnership between Hive Energy and Wirsol, part of a firm based in Germany, boast that with a maximum output of 350MW – seven times the size of any existing solar farm in Britain – it will ‘power over 110,00 homes’. However, they admit it will produce power only about 11 per cent of the time. The output of the nearby Medway gas-fired power station is 735MW, but this is continuous. Its site covers 15 acres – enough for just ten football pitches.

When The Mail on Sunday visited Graveney last week, the only sounds at the site’s edge were the tweeting of skylarks and the rustle of grass in the wind. A huge and rare bird of prey, a marsh harrier, from one of the nesting pairs that now live on what may become the solar farm, flapped its wings in the distance, cruising the shoreline.

The scheme has managed to unite environmentalists against it – from groups that would normally favour solar energy.

Vicky Ellis, from the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We support renewable energy in the right place – such as on roofs, industrial and farm buildings. We don’t support trashing the countryside and losing productive farmland for the sake of chasing a profit.

Marsh Harriers, a huge bird of prey nest on what could become the Cleve Hill Solar Park site

Marsh Harriers, a huge bird of prey nest on what could become the Cleve Hill Solar Park site

‘This is one of the most protected and fragile landscapes in Kent, of international importance, with some of the best and rarest biodiversity in Europe, and it will be impossible to mitigate the loss of tranquillity and unique habitat.

‘It is quite simply the industrialisation of rural Kent, depriving future generations of the chance to enjoy this wonderful and unique landscape.’

Tim Valentine, speaking for the local Green Party, said: ‘We are very much in favour of renewable energy and the need to deploy it at scale. But it’s important we have the right schemes in the right places and we do not support a proposal that entails what amounts to a two-and-a-half-mile-long industrial roof over an area much loved by local people and surrounded by sites protected for wildlife.’

Vinny Ganley, conservation adviser for the Kent Wildlife Trust, added: ‘This site has no precedent in its scale. We understand the need for solar power but we are very concerned about the impact it will have on wildlife.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5905675/Elon-Musk-build-worlds-biggest-battery-Britain-400m-solar-panel-plans.html

 

 

Comparison is made with the nearby 735 MW gas power station at Medway, which is capable of generating 5472 GWh per year. The Cleve Hill solar farm, in contrast, will only produce about 337 GWh annually.

But, more to the point, Cleve Hill will generate very little at all in winter, so back up capacity will still be needed from the likes of Medway.

Elon Musk’s battery will not change this fact. With a capacity of 350 MWh, it will only be able to store one hour’s output from the solar farm.

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32 Comments
  1. July 1, 2018 10:36 am

    It’s ironic that green campaigners are against such a clean, green energy facility. Perhaps Musk could throw in a few giant wind turbines, some biomass boilers and an anaerobic digester to make it even more clean and green. What’s not to like.

  2. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 1, 2018 10:39 am

    It is ironic that “green campaigners” cannot see an unspoilt area of nature without wanting to destroy it. Perhaps they should be renamed “green developers”.
    How about the solar farm be named after Lord Deben for his ‘services’ to the nation.

    • July 1, 2018 12:19 pm

      It does not look to my jaundiced eye that there is actually much nature there. The objectors probably have never been to the site.

      A few minutes on Google Earth shows that the site has a long history as arable land. Nowadays pesticides are so good that there is precious little alive at all on arable land other than the crop itself (you can confirm this easily enough by looking out of the window on any train journey outside of the conurbations).

      On this site (as elsewhere) the wildlife will have been pushed back to the boundaries between the fields. In this case there are ditches that were formerly part of the original salt marsh (hence the wavy lines, not the usual straight boundaries). The ditches are probably poor quality owing to the amount of fertiliser that washes into them.

      So on the face of it there is no objection on ecological grounds. The site isn’t a marsh. The objection should be on the grounds that the development is a useless cash leech. The justification for the Uber Arable we have now is that fields are highly productive so we need fewer of them, and other sites can be set aside for wildlife. In practice that doesn’t really happen. Good arable land should not be converted into useless solar fields.

      • July 1, 2018 12:32 pm

        The local wildlife groups would appear to disagree with your interpretation that the land in question is of no ecological value. Who do I believe local wildlife experts who have been to the area or someone who bases his evaluation on Google Earth?

      • chrism56 permalink
        July 1, 2018 6:14 pm

        David – I don’t know about the exact details in England, but here in New Zealand any area that is proposed for development is automatically opposed by Green or wildlife groups as an area of national significance. They suddenly find all these species that are threatened so need this bit of scungy scrubland. They are just anti-any development but cloak it in an environmental shield.
        The classic was up on the Stockton Plateau where they said that there were only 50 of the carnivorous snail left (yes they do exist). The coal company organized a search and they found over 500. These were put in storage by the Department of Conservation to be released elsewhere. Someone in that government body stuffed up the climate control and killed the lot.
        But the moral is just because the wildlife group says something, doesn’t mean it is.

      • HotScot permalink
        July 1, 2018 11:11 pm

        David Johnson

        Feck all to do with wildlife. If anyone had any sense they would oppose it on the grounds that when the sun shines in Kent, it’s Tuesday. Every other day of the year, it’s raining.

        Present heatwave excepted of course, cos’ we can’t store the fecking energy of one day and deploy it for 364 days!

        Stupid, insane, rent seeking, socialist opportunity to suck yet more taxes from your wallet!

      • Nigel Sherratt permalink
        July 2, 2018 12:26 pm

        There is a great deal of local opposition (even from the Greens) thank God. I live 1.6 miles as the Marsh Harrier flies from the proposed horror. From the article …

        ‘This is one of the most protected and fragile landscapes in Kent, of international importance, with some of the best and rarest biodiversity in Europe, and it will be impossible to mitigate the loss of tranquillity and unique habitat.’

        Consider as an example an exhausted Bewick’s swan looking for somewhere to rest after arriving from Siberia and seeing the glint of what looks like marshland in the moonlight. Likely result a dead swan and several dead solar panels.

  3. July 1, 2018 10:43 am

    Please do not let that mad megalomaniac or any of his equally mad ideas appear on English soil.

  4. Gerry, England permalink
    July 1, 2018 10:45 am

    You have to laugh when a ‘green’ energy scheme gets all the green groups up in opposition at the damage it ill do. Still, that is the magic of subsidies – making people do stupid things for the taxpayer cash.

    The good news is that Ontario have thrown out their tree-hugging provincial leaders for somebody with common sense. Alberta look set to do the same. There is only so much job losses and rising energy costs the people can stand before they vote for change. Sadly here there is no credible alternative to vote for, and as soon as next year.

    • Hivemind permalink
      July 1, 2018 11:59 pm

      “There is only so much job losses and rising energy costs the people can stand before they vote for change.”

      Unfortunately South Australia proves you’re wrong. They really are incredibly stupid.

  5. July 1, 2018 11:00 am

    A little known fact:

    The Stephan-Boltzmann equation tells us that if you want to WARM the planet then plaster it with solar panels.

  6. July 1, 2018 11:07 am

    This is stupid on so many levels. Yet more taxes going to the Musk public money hoover

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 1, 2018 11:10 am

    Yer, presumably batteries will be charged off-peak (or from diesel generators!) when solar can’t provide…………… but even so.

    More rounds of domestic energy price increase of 10-20% soon, and more illogical complaints about evil big power companies profiteering, and blaming people for not switching.

    But no mention of these sorts of lunatic schemes.

    It appears the great grandson of Heath Robinson is using his legacy as a blueprint for our electricity supply.

  8. Bitter@twisted permalink
    July 1, 2018 12:12 pm

    “Enron” Musk is nothing but a scamster, snake oil salesman.
    Even the Greens can see through this con.

    • John Palmer permalink
      July 1, 2018 2:11 pm

      Quite so…. with any project involving him – keep your hand on your wallet and change your passwords!

      • Bitter@twisted permalink
        July 1, 2018 5:00 pm

        Good article in the Sunday Times, today, titled;
        “ Musk A deceiver or deluded.”
        It is high time this scamster was exposed for what he is.

  9. Jeff permalink
    July 1, 2018 12:33 pm

    Way too far from the equator for a big, expensive solar scheme.

  10. spetzer86 permalink
    July 1, 2018 12:53 pm

    The main objection to the scheme appears to be money.

    “We don’t support trashing the countryside and losing productive farmland for the sake of chasing a profit.”

    It just needs to be pointed out that this project is so expensive it will likely not generate any profit per se, just tons of subsidy money.

  11. Glenn permalink
    July 1, 2018 1:28 pm

    This is renewable energy… nothing pleases the greens, I am sure they like to plug their kettle in and have a nice hot cup of tea, or have a hot bath/shower …. maybe they don’t wash !!!

    • HotScot permalink
      July 1, 2018 11:15 pm

      Glenn

      I’ll bet my mortgage that every one of their pension schemes invest in fossil fuel. Nothing said about it of course.

  12. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 1, 2018 1:30 pm

    So that’s £400m for the solar farm…and how much for the battery? There were never straight answers on Musk’s South Australian battery. Presumably the main intent is to try to stabilise output from the London array wind farm, whose cables come ashore at Cleve Hill, Graveney. Coincidence that, I’m sure.

  13. Athelstan permalink
    July 1, 2018 2:01 pm

    ‘green energy’ the paradox is almost too funny, how much good arable land has been swallowed up by the PV subsidy farms?

    There will come a time in the not too distant future, the nation will be needing this land – for crops, although milking the domestic consumer ie the taxpayer a much easier option, admittedly and who TF cares about the future?

    • Hivemind permalink
      July 2, 2018 12:03 am

      It isn’t only cropland that is gobbled up. The Greens have changed the use purpose of urban land near the centre of Canberra to install a pointless solar farm. This land is well serviced with roads and should have had housing, but is instead used for green virtue signalling.

  14. dennisambler permalink
    July 1, 2018 3:49 pm

    “We understand the need for solar power ”

    No, they don’t, they really don’t. Big boost for the window cleaning industry if it ever happens.

    Musk is in all sorts of trouble back home, he obviously needs pastures new, because he probably won’t get any more public dosh from the Donald.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-budget/345338-can-we-wean-elon-musk-off-government-support-already

  15. July 1, 2018 10:09 pm

    Have these dimwits heard of winter? Solar power is feeble in the short daylight hours between November and February in the UK.

  16. July 2, 2018 3:03 am

    And these panels don,t capture Carbon! No wonder Greens would not like them!

  17. Gamecock permalink
    July 3, 2018 11:04 am

    The Greens are your problem, not Musk. Battery backup solar is a bad idea, at northern latitudes even dumber, but Musk will be happy to build it for you if you are willing to pay for it.

    Cashing in on Green nuttiness doesn’t make Musk a bad person, it makes him smart. If you are stupid enough to buy such stuff, he’s happy to build it for you.

    “It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.” – W. C. Fields

  18. July 4, 2018 1:15 pm

    I’ve walked out there, from Faversham to Seasalter. Done first thing in the morning just after dawn, it’s a wonderful place to be, silent apart from bird calls and the noise of the sea (if the tides in) and views across the estuary to Sheppy.

    If it goes, I’ll miss it.

  19. July 5, 2018 7:20 pm

    Just done a blog post with this as the title:
    13 Days of Low Levels of UK Wind Power Rectified by £632 billion of Powerpack 2 Batteries!

    And this as the concluding paragraph:
    The cost of ‘solving’ a random 13 day intermittency issue is when the idiocy of renewable dissolves into lunacy. Talk of breakthroughs in battery technology and wonderful new storage techniques is revealed as pure dreamland fantasy.

    http://prismsuk.blogspot.com/2018/07/13-days-of-low-levels-of-uk-wind-power.html

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