Solar farms project to power 80,000 homes annually

A €200m project is to create 23 solar farms in the south and south east of the country, leading to 2,000 jobs during construction and 60 full-time positions on completion.

Solar farms project to power 80,000 homes annually

The joint venture is being planned by Dublin-based solar company BNRG Renewables Ltd and French renewable energy group Neoen.

When all the solar farms are fully operational, they will provide enough energy to power 80,000 homes annually.

Construction is expected to take place between the summer of 2018 and 2020 and the solar farms will have a lifespan of up to 30 years.

Multiple projects will be submitted for planning in the coming months. BNRG Renewables founder and director David Maguire said the solar farms will be built near Miltown, Co Kerry; Bandon, Co Cork; and at sites in Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, and Kildare.

It will be his company’s first venture in the Republic of Ireland. It is to start construction this year on a solar farm in Co Down capable of powering 4,320 homes annually and has undertaken a number of extensive projects in several other countries.

BNRG Renewables was an early entrant into solar markets in Greece, Bulgaria, and the US.

Since 2007, the company has constructed more than €230m in solar projects in Europe including the completion last year of a number of developments in Britain.

It recently entered the US market, where it is planning a number of further projects.

“This unique partnership [with Neoen] represents a significant investment in renewable energy in Ireland and will be well-positioned to deliver first-class projects, and real value to the Irish consumer,” Mr Maguire said.

Neoen has built a number of plants in France, Portugal, Australia, Mexico, Mozambique, Jamaica, Zambia, Jordan, and El Salvador.

In 2015, Neoen completed construction of the largest solar project operating in Europe.

The plant, located near Bordeaux, has a capacity of 300MW and its annual generation is equivalent to the total power consumption of all households in Bordeaux.

The proposals emerge despite calls from a number of local authorities to the Government issue national guidelines to council planners on solar energy.

Yesterday’s announcement is similar in scale to plans by Irish-owned company Amarenco to build solar farms on 35 sites in south Leinster and Munster.

Amarenco founder John Mullins, one of the main players in the sector, had announced in November 2015 that it would invest €200m-plus in developing them at Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, and Kilkenny.

Each , he said, would typically contain 24,000 solar panels and would generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. He confirmed yesterday that five of the solar farms had already received planning permission — four in Cork and one in Waterford.

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