Two coal power stations in the east midlands – Cottam and West Burton A – are now to be home to solar PV with a combined capacity of over 1GW.

Developed by Island Green Power, the Cottam Solar Project is to generate up to 600MW, while West Burton Solar Project is to generate up to 480MW. The sites will also feature energy storage facilities.

The two solar farms are to cross the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire county border, utilising the grid connection points of the Cottam Power Station, which closed in 2019, and West Burton A, which is due to close next year.

“Repowering coal generation sites with clean solar energy will support the UK’s commitments to reducing carbon emissions with affordable electricity,” said Island Green Power’s Dave Elvin. “The projects will also be contributing towards energy resilience and reducing our reliance on increasingly expensive electricity and gas imports from Europe.”

Due to the size of the projects, they are to both be classified as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP), meaning Development Consent Order applications will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate after stakeholder consultation including with local communities and district and county councils. The energy secretary will then decide whether to grant consent for the proposals.

The first solar project to be approved through the NSIP process, Cleve Hill, was sold on to Quinbrook and renamed to Project Fortress earlier this week. Other projects of a size to be considered NSIPs include BayWa r.e.’s 163MW solar project in South Derbyshire, which is to incorporate a 37.5MW battery energy storage system and is expected to go through the NSIP process in late 2022.