Article

UK's largest solar farm could cause explosion on scale of small nuclear bomb, residents complain

Developers want to erect up to one million solar panels the height of a double-decker bus on farmland in a picturesque Kent village

Building the UK's largest solar farm in a picturesque Kent village could cause an explosion on the scale of a small nuclear bomb, residents have complained.

Developers want to erect up to one million solar panels the height of a double-decker bus on 900 acres of farmland, the equivalent of 600 football pitches, at Cleve Hill near Faversham at a cost of 450m.

They would have the capacity to power more than 90,000 homes using energy from what would be the biggest battery storage facility in the world - and three times bigger than the lithium-ion battery built by Elon Musk, the Tesla tycoon, in South Australia.

But thousands of campaigners say the battery facility, which would cover 25 acres, is unsafe and their idyllic village would be decimated if there was a battery fire which could not be controlled.

Lithium-based batteries are filled with a highly flammable electrolyte which, if it catches fire, can ignite combustible material nearby.

These fires have "an explosive energy equivalent to a small nuclear bomb and the potential... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Developers want to erect up to one million solar panels the height of a double-decker bus on farmland in a picturesque Kent village

Building the UK's largest solar farm in a picturesque Kent village could cause an explosion on the scale of a small nuclear bomb, residents have complained.

Developers want to erect up to one million solar panels the height of a double-decker bus on 900 acres of farmland, the equivalent of 600 football pitches, at Cleve Hill near Faversham at a cost of £450m.

They would have the capacity to power more than 90,000 homes using energy from what would be the biggest battery storage facility in the world - and three times bigger than the lithium-ion battery built by Elon Musk, the Tesla tycoon, in South Australia.

But thousands of campaigners say the battery facility, which would cover 25 acres, is unsafe and their idyllic village would be decimated if there was a battery fire which could not be controlled.

Lithium-based batteries are filled with a highly flammable electrolyte which, if it catches fire, can ignite combustible material nearby.

These fires have "an explosive energy equivalent to a small nuclear bomb and the potential to spread lethal gases", the Save Graveney Marshes campaign website claims.

Richard Knox-Johnston, vice president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Kent, told The Sunday Telegraph: "The battery storage envisaged has caused fires and explosions around the world and CPRE is concerned that this application could be approved without any safety consideration being taken into account.

"The size of this storage is five times the current largest similar battery storage in the world and poses unacceptable risks. It is equivalent to 602 tons of TNT, which is 1/20th of the TNT equivalent of the Hiroshima atom bomb."

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, said the scale of the development would have a "devastating" impact on the lands which inspired Charles Dickens and Daniel Defoe.

"We’re not talking about a few fields - this would destroy an entire landscape," she said. "I want to see us reach net-zero by 2050, but this should not come at any cost."

Professor Sir David Melville, from the Faversham Society, added: "It's only a mile away from the local primary school and a couple of miles away from Faversham. This is far too big a risk to take at the level that we currently know about these batteries and their safety, and we haven't had the reassurances that we need from the government."  

Alok Sharma, the business secretary, is due to make a decision on the development by May 28.

Emily Marshall, spokeswoman for the developers, Hive Energy and Wirsol, said safety was "at the heart" of the farm's design and an outline battery safety management plan has been agreed with the Health and Safety Executive, as well as Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

"Cleve Hill Solar Park offers a low cost, safe and low carbon way of delivering clean power to thousands of homes and provides a real opportunity for Kent and Swale to meet their zero carbon obligations," she said.

"If built, it will be able to generate up to 350MW of clean, renewable electricity able to power over 91,000 homes. The project won’t require any Government subsidies and aims to be one of the lowest cost generators of electricity in the UK.

"If built, it would also provide over £1 million of revenue to Swale and Kent Councils each year for the lifetime of the project. The solar park will deliver a 65% increase in biodiversity on the intensively farmed site by including open grassland and meadow areas, hedgerows and woodland."


Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk...

MAY 10 2020
https://www.windaction.org/posts/52170-uk-s-largest-solar-farm-could-cause-explosion-on-scale-of-small-nuclear-bomb-residents-complain
back to top