Fears over world's largest battery energy storage system near Gainsborough

Plans to potentially develop the world’s largest battery energy storage facility near Gainsborough have raised alarm among villagers.
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The facility is part of a number of proposed large-scale solar farm projects which will be located between Lincoln and Gainsborough and impact more than 30 villages.

Residents fear thermal runaway – when the temperature of the battery cells rises uncontrollably – could lead to explosions or fires.

However, the developer behind several solar farms have given assurances the technology is safe.

An aerial view of photovoltaic panels at a solar farm.An aerial view of photovoltaic panels at a solar farm.
An aerial view of photovoltaic panels at a solar farm.

Concerned residents from the 30 villages impacted by the proposals have united to create the 7,000 Acres Group.

They say the development is set to be the largest solar farm project in Europe, with a BESS near Willingham by Stow potentially becoming the largest in the world.

A group statement said: “The companies involved are focusing on profits and convenience rather than care for the local environment and local communities.”

The group is campaigning to raise awareness of the scale of these projects and argue that the proposed developments are totally unsuitable for the area.

The group has backed former government minister Maria Miller, who has raised concerns about the safety of BESS and urged the government to conduct an immediate review of battery storage projects.

The National Fire Chiefs Council has also called for battery storage developers to engage with local fire and rescue services.

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The proposed projects include the 2,800 acre Cottom Solar Farm project at the decommissioned Cottam power station, and the Gate Burton Energy Park which would have a capacity to power more than 160,000 homes.

Island Green Power, the developer for both the Cottam and West Burton solar projects, has responded to the concerns.

A spokesman said: “BESS is crucial to achieving energy security while transitioning to green, renewable power. It improves grid stability and reliability, balancing supply and demand.”

IGP said safety measures were put in place for a battery storage facility to prevent fires and accidents.

It said it consulted with local authorities and fire rescue while developing the proposal and continue to consider fire safety regulations during planning.

The proposed Tillbridge Solar Farm – which is due to go out to public consultation later this year – would generate more than 50 megawatts of energy which could power about 20,000 homes, based around Gainsborough and Lincoln.

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