Energy company CEO John Mullins welcomes solar projects but criticises site choices

John Mullins, CEO of Cork-based energy company Amarenco Solar, has welcomed Bord na Móna and ESB’s plans to build new solar power projects, but criticised their choice of four locations in counties Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare.

The joint venture will see the two semi-state companies working together to develop up to 500MW of solar energy projects in the Midlands. Bord na Móna and ESB say the four projects will generate enough energy to power 150,000 homes.

“Depleted bog lands would not be our first choice as locations for solar farms as they would present unique difficulties,” John Mullins said. “The announcement also marks the first indication that carbon-intensive peat will replaced by solar, so that we can reduce our errant emissions in Ireland.

“There is an opportunity here for the minister and the Government to partner with a responsible, experienced, well-managed sector in providing real and lasting solutions to Ireland’s energy needs. We hope that the Government establishes a fair tariff regime for all-comers to enable this to happen.”

Mr Mullins said these joint projects are a tangible demonstration that the State is now viewing solar as a significant platform for renewable output.

He called on the Government to accelerate investment in solar, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help Irish citizens avoid punitive EU fines.

The ESB-Bord na Móna joint venture will access part of Bord na Móna’s land bank in strategic locations in the Midlands. The venture will harness the two semi-state companies’ expertise in renewable energy, and support the nation’s energy transition.

ESB chief executive, Pat O’Doherty, said: “In ESB, we are committed to a future where low carbon electricity powers a low-carbon society. We have already an established position in the solar market in Ireland, with both ground-mounted and rooftop- solar projects under development. ESB’s deep relationship with Bord na Móna in the Midlands spans decades. This new partnership reinforces our confidence in solar to help Ireland meet its carbon reduction targets beyond 2020.”

Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister, Denis Naughten, said solar will play a key role in Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon energy future and it presents significant opportunities for citizens and the economy as a whole.

“We have made great progress in the decarbonisation of our electricity sector with over 25% of our electricity coming from renewable sources. We need to continue this progress in the electricity sector but also increase our efforts in the transport and heating sectors,” said Mr Naughten.

Mike Quinn, CEO, Bord na Móna, said the solar industry has the potential to form an important part of Ireland’s energy mix in the medium- to long-term.

Community consultation will be at at the heart of the project, he said.


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