In May 2016, Lightsource Renewable Energy finished construction and successfully connected the first ever large-scale ground mounted solar installation in Northern Ireland. The 4.83MW solar farm at Crookedstone Road is connected into Belfast International Airport, providing 27% of the airport's annual electricity needs. At times of peak generation, the airport has run on solar electricity alone for almost nine hours.
The solar farm is located a third of a mile from the airport’s terminal building. Crookedstone is the largest solar energy connection to an airport in the UK and Ireland. The solar farm is generating over one quarter of the airport’s annual electricity needs. At certain peak generation times, the airport has run on solar electricity alone for almost nine hours.
Crookedstone Solar Farm cost in the region of $6.7m to build, with significant local input in the construction of the project. The project was delivered with no disruption to operations at the airport. The entire project was 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).
After the first ten months of operation, Belfast International Airport announced savings of over $130,000, making a major impact on the airport's cost base. In addition to the money that Belfast International Airport saved from choosing to procure solar power, the development is also improving the airport's environmental performance. It is estimated that the energy from the new solar farm has saved 2,100 tons of carbon emissions each year – equivalent to taking 469 cars off the road.
When the solar farm was connected, the following statements were released:
Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource, said the new 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."
When the airport's savings were announced, the following statements were released:
Alan Whiteside said "The solar farm project has exceeded all expectations. From switch-on in March to the end of the year, the 'ballpark' savings were over $130,000. The project has won critical acclaim, and a few prestigious awards, namely the Sustainable Ireland award won by Lightsource and the Airport Operators Association ‘Best Environmental Initiative” award. The project is consistently delivering a reliable 'green' and cost-saving energy supply for the airport. No other airport in either the rest of the UK or Ireland has a similar energy source and we're delighted with its operation."
Nick Boyle said “We are really thrilled that Belfast International Airport are being rewarded for the vision that they showed in switching to solar energy with Lightsource. We worked hand in hand with the team at Belfast to deliver a project which would meet their needs. Not only has this project significantly reduced their emissions, it has significantly improved their bottom line. That’s the benefit that a Lightsource Private Wire agreement can deliver for a business.”