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Quinbrook starts construction of UK’s largest solar and battery storage project

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Energy Global,

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a specialist global investment manager focused exclusively on the infrastructure needed for the energy transition, has announced construction start of Cleve Hill, the UK’s largest consented solar (373 MW) and battery storage (>150 MW) project. Located in Kent, this renewable power project is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2024.

The Cleve Hill solar project was granted development consent in May 2020 by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and was the first of its kind to be approved as a nationally significant infrastructure project. Cleve Hill is expected to generate enough renewable power each year to meet the power needs of over 100 000 UK homes and help reduce carbon emissions by 164 450 tpy. The huge scale of the project is set to provide a meaningful contribution to improving energy security for the UK and further decarbonise the power grid, helping to progress the country’s journey to net zero.

In July 2022, Quinbrook announced the successful award of a 15-year contract for difference (CfD) in the UK’s latest CfD allocation auction to support financing for the project. This contract award was the largest received by a UK solar project as part of the biggest ever round of the UK government’s flagship auction scheme, which is expected to help lower UK power prices and boost energy security.

The CfD is indexed annually to CPI (base year 2012), and enables the project to benefit from the prevailing high inflationary environment. The fully inflation linked contracts offered by the CfD, like the fully inflation linked contracts secured by Quinbrook for its portfolio of synchronous condensers, are pertinent examples of the inflation protection Quinbrook seeks from its investments.

“High energy prices, geopolitical instability and the UK’s ambitious Net Zero goals are bringing into focus the critical need to accelerate the building of the next generation of energy transition infrastructure in the UK,” commented Rory Quinlan, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Quinbrook. “In our view, large scale solar and battery storage projects are key to achieving the decarbonisation imperatives of the energy transition the world over and we are doing our best to create a blueprint for more projects to come here in the UK. Just as importantly, we are committed to doing this in a way that is truly impactful in supporting jobs and delivering a range of tangible benefits to the local community.”

Cleve Hill is expected to support over 2300 direct and indirect jobs during the project's lifetime and generate more than £148 million in local socio-economic benefits. Creating opportunities for local companies to be involved in the construction and operations supply chain is a Quinbrook priority, coupled with the ability for local residents to access employment opportunities associated with construction and operation. Research organisations are also encouraged to access information concerning the project to enable technical research and innovation in the renewable energy sector as a whole.

Cleve Hill has also dedicated 138 acres towards habitat management, designed in collaboration with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the Environment Agency that will add more than 3.5 km of native hedgerow screen planting across the site and seek to deliver a net gain of over 65% in biodiversity.

Project financing from a diverse group of lenders has commenced with strong interest received from the financing sector given the project’s high grade contracted revenue profile and inflation hedge benefits. Selection of preferred lenders and the completion of debt financing is expected over the coming months.



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