Lightsource bp sets sights on Welsh 350MW mega-solar site

Lightsource BP to develop solar and green hydrogen for £20m South Wales Industrial Cluster

Published: 7 Apr 2021, 12:51

Image: Lightsource bp.

Solar development giant Lightsource bp has unveiled proposals for a 350MW site in North Anglesey, Wales.

The company is proposing to fund, develop and build the Môn solar farm, which will be split across three parcels of land in the north east of the island, including on industrial areas around the former Rhosgoch Oil Terminal.

Within the first of these parcels, at the site of the oil terminal, Lightsource bp has identified an area for a potential battery storage asset to form part of the project. In the second it has identified a potential area for a new 400kv substation, which would connect to existing overhead lines that run from Wylfa to Pentir.

The first parcel of land Lightsource has proposed to form part of Môn, which may include a battery. Image: Lightsource bp.

Môn is still at a very early stage, with Lightsource bp announcing the initial community consultation events on 4 March. Online Q&A sessions will be held on 16 and 17 March, in which Lightsource bp will outline the initial proposals and gather feedback from the local communities.

Most of the open grassland on the site will be suitable for continued grazing of small livestock, and a bespoke Biodiversity Management Plan will be put together to enhance the site as much as possible for local wildlife.

Penny Laurenson, director of environmental planning and sustainability at Lightsource bp, said the site would play an important part in “meeting rising energy demands efficiently and more sustainably”.

“We want to hear from the people of Anglesey, and following this consultation we’re conducting a variety of assessments, to refine our plans before we bring them back to the community for further comment and input.”

The second parcel of Môn, which may includes a substation. Image: Lightsource bp.

The announcement follows Lightsource bp announcing it is to develop solar and green hydrogen for the South Wales Industrial Cluster, which will include 20-50MW scale ground-mount solar sites.

Lightsource bp heralded the return of large-scale solar build-out in the UK solar market at the end of 2019, announcing that it would be pursuing a 1GW project pipeline. Throughout last year it continued to advance its portfolio in the UK, including gaining planning permission for a new 50MW solar farm near Castle Eden in Durham.

However, none have been on the scale of the proposed Môn solar farm, with only one site of that scale having been granted consent in the UK so far, Cleve Hill. The 350MW project is a joint venture between Hive Energy and Wirsol and will include 880,000 panels.

On the surface of the Môn solar farm, it is just another large-scale solar farm being scoped out, “albeit in the mega-solar size range” explained Finlay Colville, head of research at Solar Media. There are currently more that 300 sites in the UK equating to more than 10GW of power that are being scoped out. This early-stage pipeline is growing at about 1GW of new sites every two months.

The third parcel of land that may form the Môn solar farm. Image: Lightsource bp.

“The difference however is that this is Lightsource bp behind the scheme,” Colville continued. “This will certainly add more visibility in planning and community involvement, as Lightsource has always been top of the game in the UK for engaging with local communities ahead of site construction. More interestingly, it is Lightsource’s first real move beyond the 50MW site size limit. In the past, Lightsource was highly adept in the dual/combo site build-outs, where 2-3 sites, separately planned, would be constructed simultaneously.

“Lightsource bp today is a very different company though, compared to the pre-BP entity that trailblazed UK solar farm activity back in 2012. The company is now routinely involved in sites this size overseas and has the luxury of BP’s long-term goal to be a major global solar energy owner/supplier.

“Even if the site never gets built, it will be a bonanza payday for the dozens of planning consultants in the UK that Lightsource chooses to involve in the project from the outset.”

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