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Lightsource Renewable Energy, Europe’s leading solar energy company, has developed and connected Northern Ireland’s first ever large-scale solar farm. This pioneering renewable energy project is also the first ground based solar power station to be completed on the island of Ireland.
The 4.83 Megawatts peak (MWp) solar farm, at Crookedstone Road, in Antrim, Northern Ireland, is now connected directly into the private network of the nearby Belfast International Airport – providing 27% of the airport’s annual electricity demand.
The energy from the new solar farm will provide the airport with a source of renewable electricity, reduced energy costs and give a boost to their green credentials – with a saving of 2,100 tonnes of carbon emissions each year — equivalent to taking 469 cars off the road.
In addition, the Crookedstone site will also help to increase local biodiversity levels. Lightsource worked closely with ecologists throughout the planning stages to create a tailored environmental plan for the new solar farm. The site will feature new planting of native hedgerow, wildflowers and the installation of bird and bat nesting boxes around the site. The net outcome will be a site in which a diverse range of flaura and fauna can thrive.
Renewable energy also presents huge opportunity for local investment with the Crookedstone project representing an investment of more than £5million into the local economy – including use of local contractors and services. The entire project is being funded, installed and operated by Lightsource, with Belfast International Airport buying the clean electricity produced by the solar farm through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
A private-wire PPA can help businesses reduce exposure to energy market volatility and creates excellent CSR opportunities by helping businesses meet energy and carbon reduction targets. With sustainability now a key requirement in many tendering processes, businesses large and small are looking to switch to renewable energy to give them a competitive edge.
The Northern Ireland Executives’ target is to meet 40% of our energy demand from renewable sources by 2020 and large-scale solar can play a key role in NI’s overall energy mix, by providing a predictable and reliable source of energy. This balance of renewable energy mix will be crucial to ensuring security of supply for the whole of Ireland.
Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource, said: “We’re delighted to announce the connection of Ireland’s first large-scale solar farm. The Crookedstone Road solar farm represents another milestone for Lightsource and demonstrates the opportunities that solar energy presents for the whole island. The unique quality of solar power is that it is scalable and can be deployed very quickly and efficiently, as demonstrated by this project. This is the new world of electricity supply, which we are calling the solar revolution. Energy intensive businesses can now choose to procure solar electricity with no hassle, and Lightsource remains at the forefront of this exciting paradigm shift.”
Alan Whiteside, Operations Director at Belfast International Airport, said: “Belfast International Airport is pleased to be working with Lightsource on this unique project. We will become the core customer for Northern Ireland’s first solar farm via a private-wire connection. We’re breaking new ground with this exciting venture. Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply.”