Ireland’s largest photovoltaic solar energy installation at the time was installed at O’Shea Farms in Co Kilkenny in October, 2015.
The 960 individual solar panels generate about 208,000kw of electricity per year, enough to power up to 40 homes.
O’Shea Farms and their Iverk Produce marketing arm supply quality fresh fruit and vegetables to Aldi and Supervalu supermarkets nationwide, and to the wholesale/retail and food service sector in the South East.
The solar panels are on their packhouse roofs. They help to power their refrigerated units, with the surplus sold to the national power grid.
Tommy O’Shea told the recent Teagasc Energy 2019 event, targeted at horticultural growers, that this project will provide sustainably produced electricity for up to 30 years, covering 12% of the annual electricity bill.
The payback period is between eight and 10 years, at current electricity unit prices. The installation was grant aided (approximately 18%) by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
The budgeted yield is 208,000 kwh per year; actual yields were 195,553 kwh in 2017 and 212,894 kwh in 2018.
The Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency were advisors to the project. Installation was completed by Solar Electric Ireland.
Since the 1830s, the O’Sheas have farmed on the banks of the Suir at Piltown, Co Kilkenny.
Today, they farm about 1,500 acres, specialising in production of fresh carrots and potatoes, as well as growing cereals and milking cows.
O’Shea Farms and Iverk Produce together employ about 220. Products are sourced from over 50 growing partners.
O’Shea Farms have other initiatives to reduce impact on the environment and improve sustainability.
All waste water is treated in a 13-acre reed bed system, a natural, environment-friendly, low-energy, and ecologically sustainable solution. Reusable packing crates and pallets, and low energy lighting, are also used.