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Operational Commercial Solar to Become a Reality in Ireland

Operational Commercial Solar to Become a Reality in Ireland
November 11, 2020 Danny Scrivener

Background

Ireland’s first round of large-scale ground mounted commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) developments will now begin construction. For many years developers have been making their way through the planning process and gaining planning approval to then have to halt any construction plans. The wait has been due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding government subsidies. The wait however is now over, with subsidies now being allocated to renewable energy development meaning approved applications can now materialise.

Ireland solar development

Figure 1: Construction of a solar farm.

For many years the Irish government has been promising funding, but now the first round of the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auction has seen consented developments officially given the final financial push needed to begin construction. The RESS will provide financial support to renewable electricity projects and it is a pivotal component of the National Energy and Climate Plan which aims to achieve a target of 70% renewable electricity by 2030[1]. Auctions will decide which consented developments will receive the financial contracts, with the winners of the first round going to larger schemes.

Glint and Glare Assessments

A number of the successful solar projects Pager Power has had the pleasure of working on by providing glint and glare impact assessments. A list of some of these along with the developer is presented below[2]

  • Ballinknockane Solar Farm, a 50MW Solar Farm developed by Solas Eireann 7 Ltd.
  • Blundlestown Solar Farm, a 52MW Solar Farm developed by Lightsource Ireland.
  • Blusheens Solar Farm (7.98MW) and Curraghmartin Solar Park (3.99MW) developed by Wexford Solar Ltd.
  • Doonane Solar Farm, a 20MW Solar Farm developed by Entrust Ltd and Island Green Power. Pager Power developed a mitigation scheme for this development by eliminating glare towards a nearby motorway.
  • Monroe East Solar Farm, an 8MW Solar Farm developed by Enerco.

Solar Development in Ireland

Pager Power has worked on many more solar and wind developments in Ireland and hopefully these will be successful in the next round of bidding.  It is unknown when construction will begin on these projects however the second quarter of 2021 would be a reasonable assumption.

In total 114 developers applied for the contracts, with 63 solar farms, along with 19 wind farms, winning the initial bids. The remaining were unsuccessful. To ensure the funding is awarded, the developer must have in place an offer of grid connection by the end of 2022 to receive the subsidy from the RESS. A full list of the winners can be found here. Figure 1 below shows the total Offer Quantity Successful and Unsuccessful by Eligible Technology in Mega Watts (MW)[3].

Ireland Solar Development

Figure 2: Offer Quantity Successful and Unsuccessful by Eligible Technology.

In Offer Quantity (MW) terms, this represents a total of 1275.536 MW that was successful and a total of 283.4 MW that was not successful.

Future of Ireland’s Solar

Moving forwards, the wave of construction which will inevitably sweep across Ireland will be crucial to the country’s contribution towards an EU wide renewable energy target of 32% by 2030 and to a 7% reduction per annum in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030. PV technology has improved so much that four years ago, to provide the entire world’s energy requirement from solar power, would have required a total land area equivalent to Spain. Today that has been reduced to an area the size of Israel[1].

With the financial incentives now in place, the race to become the first operational ground mounted commercial solar PV development in Ireland begins.

About Pager Power

Pager Power undertakes technical assessments for developers of renewable energy projects and tall buildings. For more information about what we do, please get in touch.

References

[1]Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. RESS is the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme in Ireland. Last accessed 10.11.2020.
[2]This is not a comprehensive list, but the names of the projects that can be easily distinguished. Project names and applicant names change throughout the planning process.
[3]Renewable Electricity Support Scheme 1. RESS 1 Final Auction Results, 10th September 2020, Last accessed 10.11.2020.
[4]Kildare is location for Ireland’s first solar farm, September 30th 2020. Last accessed 10.11.2020.

Image accreditation: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brookhavenlab/

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