Plans revealed for huge new energy storage and solar park near Newark

Elements Green, the renewables developer, says it is at an early stage in developing plans for Great North Road Solar Park – a new solar and energy storage park located to the northwest of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire.

With a potential generation capacity of around 800 megawatts (MW) AC of solar energy, the scheme has the potential to meet the power needs of around 400,000 homes while avoiding more than 250,000 of CO2 emissions every year.

Mark Noone, project director for Great North Road Solar Park, said: “The UK Government has set ambitious and legally binding targets to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. More renewable energy is needed to fast-track away from fossil fuel, and the Government’s stated ambition of increasing the nation’s solar capacity fivefold to 70GW by 2035 recognises the important role large-scale solar development will play in achieving this.

“Our proposals for Great North Road Solar Park build on the Trent Valley’s long history of powering the UK. With an installed capacity of over one gigawatt (GW) DC the scheme offers an effective, clean solution that would help secure the UK’s future energy needs, contributing 1.5 per cent towards the government’s 2035 solar PV target. Stepping up the production of sustainable, home-grown electricity it would also contribute to tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on through the reduction of household energy bills.”

Elements Green has identified multiple parcels of land extending to the north of the A617 and the west of the A1 to deliver the scheme. Work is currently underway to determine suitable areas for accommodating solar photovoltaic panels (PV), an on-site energy storage facility and associated infrastructure to connect the scheme to the national grid at Staythorpe substation.

The site would also include tree planting, wildflower meadows, and wetland areas – and possibly new walkways.

The findings from the initial work will be shared through a first stage of community consultation anticipated in early 2024. Feedback to this consultation will be used to inform and refine more detailed proposals on which a further stage of consultation will be carried out.

“We believe that local communities have an important role to play in helping to inform and influence how our proposals for Great North Road Solar Park evolve,” added Noone. “We want to deliver this project responsibly and are committed to consulting as widely and effectively as possible, working together with residents, businesses and community organisations to improve and enhance our proposals as our plans for the project progress.

“We’re extremely keen to hear about any initiatives we could support or deliver to benefit those communities closest to the development through our community benefit scheme, known as NG+, which will be directly linked to this project,” he continues.

“NG+ would make available in the region of £1m per annum to provide grants for residential and commercial energy efficiency measures and small-scale renewable energy schemes, through to supporting community projects, apprenticeships, school and college programs, to woodland, biodiversity, and archaeology projects. This is in addition to the making an estimated contribution of circa £1.5m-£3m in business rates to the Newark and Sherwood district. The project would not rely on any form of government subsidy.”

Great North Road Solar Park is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) because the amount of electricity it could generate exceeds 50MW. This requires Elements Green to submit an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate. Ultimately, the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) will decide whether to grant consent.

It is anticipated that the development process through DCO submission and examination will take between two and three years. Subject to achieving consent, construction would begin around 2027.

The news comes just days after plans for a similar scheme in Nottinghamshire were revealed.