Construction work begins on Ireland’s largest solar farm in Ballymacarney, Kilbride, by Statkraf.

Construction gets underway on Ireland’s largest solar farm

Statkraft, a European producer of renewable energy, has begun construction on Ireland’s largest solar farm which will create enough energy to power over 40,000 homes. Located in Ballymacarney in Kilbride, close to the Dublin border, the 200MWp project is among the very first solar farms to be constructed in the country.

The project is being developed, funded, and constructed by Statkraft. Statkraft will also be managing the operational aspects of the solar farm once constructed.

Managing Director of Statkraft Ireland, Kevin O’Donovan said: "It is really exciting to be breaking ground on this project at Ballymacarney in the largest, and one of the very first, solar farms in the country. Supporting and developing renewable energy like solar is the solution to some major challenges in the world – namely reducing our emissions and combating climate change."

"Statkraft is at the forefront of renewable energy development in Ireland and is committed to working towards a zero-carbon future. But we need to increase our capacity to deliver all kinds of renewable energy if we are to meet Ireland’s ambitious climate action targets of 70 per cent renewables by 2030.

"That is why progressing and delivering on solar projects like Ballymacarney is so important. Solar is low impact, low maintenance and a very predicable form of energy. It also diversifies our renewable energy sources here in Ireland, makes a meaningful contribution to decarbonising our electricity system and ensures that we are continuing an upward green growth trajectory."

Donal O’Sullivan, head of development for Statkraft Ireland, added: "It is good to see our flagship solar development project reach this stage. Statkraft has an additional 450MW of consented solar projects that we hope will be constructed over the coming years which will help Ireland meet its 2030 targets."

Ballymacarney, formerly known as Gallanstown, was granted planning permission in 2018 and went on to be awarded a contract in the Irish government’s first Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS-1), along with one other solar project and two wind farms totalling 333MW. Under RESS-1, the project carries a significant benefit for the local community. It will deliver over €40,000 per year to local community initiatives.

The Government contract paved the way for construction this year and the project will be fully operational towards the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, Hilltown, Duleek, close to Garristown on the Dublin border, is one of three locations in Ireland for a solar farm to be developed by Neoen, one of the world’s most dynamic independent producers of renewable energy, and its Irish partner BNRG, a developer and operator of solar farms headquartered in Dublin.

Hortland in Kildare and Millvale in Wicklow are the other two locations. With a combined capacity of 58 MWp, the solar plants, jointly owned by Neoen and BNRG1 are among the first to complete financial close in the Republic of Ireland.

The projects were successful in the first auction of the Irish government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 1) in 2020. The electricity generated by the solar farms will be sold under PPAs (purchase power agreements) supported by the Irish government via a CFD (Contract for Difference) mechanism valid until 2037.

Total project costs will amount to approximately €39 million, excluding financing costs.

Sheep grazing will be used for vegetation control in the solar farms. Commissioning is scheduled for the first half of 2022. The solar farms will provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 12,700 homes.

A financial contribution to community projects will support local development initiatives worth around €100,000 a year for the duration of the RESS support, which ends in 2037.

Bord Gáis Energy is to support the development of 11 solar farms in Ireland over the next two years, including one at Trim by Obton powered by Shannon Energy, a joint venture between Obton, a Danish solar photovoltaic (PV) business, and its Irish partner Shannon Energy.

The solar farm will be located close to Friars Park, Trim, and will have the capacity to generate up to 5MW of power.