Who is Windel Energy?
Founded in 2018, Windel Energy is a privately held company that specialises in the development and asset management of renewable energy projects and low carbon technologies.
With more than 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of clean, renewable power and battery energy storage in various stages of development, Windel is at the forefront of low carbon technologies including solar, energy storage, and onshore wind, and are helping to pave the way to achieve the UK’s net zero target by 2050.
Windel Energy is committed to responsible land use and believes that the development and delivery of a large-scale solar energy and storage park can be achieved in harmony with its surroundings.
Who is Recurrent Energy?
Recurrent Energy is one of the world’s largest and most geographically diversified utility-scale solar and energy storage project development, ownership and operations platforms. With an industry-leading team of in-house energy experts, we are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc and function as Canadian Solar’s global development and power services business. Recurrent Energy has completed the development of 9 gigawatts (GWp) of operating utility-scale solar projects and 3 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy storage projects across six continents. We have more than 25 GWp of solar and 47 GWh of battery storage projects under development.
Why was Recurrent Energy set up?
Recurrent Energy announced in April 2023 that it had rebranded its wholly owned Global Energy subsidiary as Recurrent Energy in order to streamline its development and operations and maintenance services. Recurrent Energy has a strong brand and track record in clean energy project development and execution, having brought online some of the world’s first and largest solar, solar plus storage and standalone energy storage projects.
How will electricity be generated at Fosse Green Energy?
Fosse Green Energy is a solar and energy storage park which will generate electricity from solar.
Energy generated by solar photovoltaics (PV) is reliable, low impact and very popular in the UK. In 2021 solar energy supplied more than four per cent of the UK’s entire electricity demand, and this could be up to 12 per cent by 2030. Solar energy will therefore play an important role in supporting the UK’s transition to a net zero economy.
Solar energy works through PV, which is used in solar panels. The sun emits solar radiation as light. When the sunlight shines onto a solar panel, PV cells in the panel absorb the energy from the sunlight. This energy then creates electrical charges that move, causing electricity to be generated.
The electricity is then connected to the national grid to supply homes and businesses.
Is solar energy clean? Will the Fosse Green Energy project be effective in combatting climate change?
Government expects that a low-cost, net zero consistent electricity system is likely to be composed predominantly of wind, solar and nuclear. Wind and solar will be key building blocks of the future generation mix. The UK needs sustained growth in the capacity of these sectors in the next decade to ensure we are on a pathway that allows us to meet net zero emissions in all demand scenarios.
Electricity generated from solar power has carbon emissions which are near to zero over the lifetime of a project. Solar projects are also quick to construct and operate, meaning they will provide decarbonisation benefits at the earliest opportunity with minimal noise or air quality impacts during operation.
The UK already has over 13 gigawatts (GW) of solar installed and operational (National Statistics, 2022). This has been instrumental in helping the UK achieve a 70+% reduction in carbon emissions from electricity generation versus a 1990 baseline. Solar is already, and is set to continue to be, an incredibly important part of the electricity generation sector.
How much energy will Fosse Green Energy produce?
In 2023, the Net Zero Growth Plan set out by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero reiterated the Government’s aim to increase the UK’s solar capacity fivefold by 2035. This is equivalent to around 70GW total generation capacity, which would be enough to power around 20 million homes.
Fosse Green Energy is anticipated to have a generating capacity c.350MW peak dc, with an export capacity of 240MW peak ac, providing a significant contribution to this target and the UK's commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Ofgem estimates the typical household in Britain uses 2,900 kWh of electricity in a year, so the electricity generated by FGE will have the potential to provide the electricity for approximately 110,000 typical UK households.
About the project
Where is Fosse Green Energy being built and why has this site been chosen?
Fosse Green Energy is proposed to be located on land 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) south-west of Lincoln in North Kesteven, Lincolnshire. It will be made up of solar photovoltaic (PV) panel areas located on the north and south of the A46, commonly known as Fosse Way.
To the east of the solar PV panel area there will be a grid connection corridor which will transport electricity through underground cables to a connection point into the national grid. We are currently considering two options for the connection corridor.
There will also be areas for ecological enhancements, mitigation measures and screening, as well as access points and infrastructure for energy storage.
There are many factors that have been considered in selecting the proposed location for Fosse Green Energy. They include the topography of the landscape; availability and location of a connection to the electricity system; and local planning and environmental factors including visual impact, biodiversity, agricultural land quality and land use, and flood risk. We also need to consider the availability and ownership of land, and access rights to the land through construction and operation.
Will there be an underground or overhead connection to the national grid?
The Scoping Report for the Fosse Green Energy project, which was published in June 2023, presented options for an overhead connection or a connection built with underground cables.
Considering feedback from the Planning Inspectorate’s consultation on the Scoping Report, we have decided to route the cables underground. This removes the landscape and visual impacts of pylons and overhead lines which could have required a maximum height of 50 metres.
What grade of agricultural land will Fosse Green Energy be developed on?
The balance between delivering a self-sufficient renewable energy system and supporting agriculture in the UK is important and carefully considered in the planning process for new developments. We are currently undertaking ALC testing over the site and the results will be reviewed and communicated.
The Net Zero Growth Plan published in March 2023 confirmed the Government’s commitment to 70GW of electricity generated from solar energy by 2035. This level of deployment would equate to less than 0.5 per cent of land in the UK, providing areas for agriculture to maintain our food security, as well as solar energy production to power to UK households and businesses.
Are we aware of other solar energy projects being brought forward in the area?
The design and development of Fosse Green Energy will take into consideration other proposals being brought forwards in the area, including for solar energy.
We are aware of Springwell Solar Farm, which is located about 8km away in the North Kesteven area, the Beacon Fen Energy Park about 20km away in the Sleaford area and the Heckington Fen Solar Farm 28km away in the Heckington / Swineshead area. Part of the engagement we will carry out will be with developers operating in the vicinity to Fosse Green Energy to mitigate the cumulative impacts of projects as far as possible.
How will Fosse Green Energy affect local wildlife and ecology? How will any impacts be managed?
Well-designed and managed solar farms contribute to a range of ecosystem services. Solar farms that have been monitored regularly by ecologists demonstrate an increase over time in the local abundance and variety of plants, pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.
As part of the project’s development we will engage with Natural England and other key stakeholders, as well as holding stages of public consultation, which will help us to plan the ways in which Fosse Green Energy will make a positive contribution to the local environment.
We will be taking steps to minimise any potential impacts on local habitats, making sure that Fosse Green Energy has as little impact on the natural environment as possible.
Under the Environment Act 2021, all new developments in England for which planning permission or development consent is needed will be required to demonstrate a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) of at least 10 per cent.
‘Net gain’ is a term used to describe a specific approach to development that leaves biodiversity in an overall better state than it was in before development was undertaken. This means that development and land management is approached in a way that aims to leave the natural environment in a better state than it was before. Fosse Green Energy will be developed in line with this policy.
The development process
What is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project?
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) is the term used for large scale development projects which fall under one of five categories (energy; transport; water; waste water and waste), set out in the Planning Act 2008. These projects can include power plants, renewable energy projects, new airports, airport extensions and major road projects.
Applications for NSIPs are submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), which is the agency responsible for operating the planning process for NSIPs.
Thresholds for projects deemed nationally significant and requiring development consent from the Planning Inspectorate are set out in the Planning Act 2008. Fosse Green Energy is considered an NSIP under the Planning Act as it is expected to generate over 50MW of electricity and is located in North Kesteven, England. We are therefore required to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate.
What is a Development Consent Order?
Development Consent Orders (DCOs) contain the planning permission that NSIPs require in order to be constructed and operated. Promoters of NSIPs must apply for a DCO to the Planning Inspectorate which will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Net Zero, who will decide if development consent should be granted for the proposed scheme.
How does the NSIP process work?
The NSIP process comprises six key stages, covering pre-application, acceptance, pre-examination, examination, decision and post-decision stages.
Upon receipt of an application for development consent, then the Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether or not to accept it. There is a period of six months for the Planning Inspectorate to examine an application and three months for the Planning Inspectorate to make its recommendation to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has a further period of three months in which to issue a decision.
From accepting an application to making a decision, the whole process should last in the region of 15 months. You can read more about the NSIP process by visiting https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/.
Will local communities be able to have their say on our proposals?
Yes. Community consultation forms an important part of the pre-application process and we welcome views and feedback to help us develop the project’s design. We held a stage of public consultation in autumn 2023 and plan to hold a second stage of public consultation in 2024 before applying for a DCO and we will be speaking to local councils, organisations and other interested stakeholders to develop our proposals.
You can register to keep up to date as our plans progress at https://fosse-green.com/register and you can contact us on email@example.com or 0800 860 6262 (open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) if you have any questions about Fosse Green Energy.
Once the DCO application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and accepted for examination there will also be a period of time where you can comment on the application. This stage of consultation will be held by the Planning Inspectorate.
We anticipate that the development process to DCO submission and through examination will take between two to three years.
During our first stage of public consultation we invited feedback on our plans to influence the development of a more detailed design for the project. Our updated proposals will be presented at a second, statutory stage of consultation which is expected to be held in 2024.
The current timeline for the project is set out at https://fosse-green.com/development-process.
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Published in March 2022, Solar Energy UK answers commonly asked questions about solar energy on the topics: ‘Solar cost and performance’, ‘Land use, landscape and the environment’, ‘Local communities and the public’ and ‘sustainability and recycling’.