Northern Ireland will soon be getting the first utility-scale solar PV farm on the island of Ireland — a 5.1 MW project was recently given the go-ahead to be built in the town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. It actually beats its larger sibling, Ireland, to this milestone.
The project, headed by BNRG Northern Power, will be a ground-mounted PV plant and is expected to create at least 50 temporary construction jobs as well as five permanent positions. BNRG states that the plant will deliver an investment value of around €7.6 million ($10.4 million).
The solar plant will provide enough electricity to power 1,500 or so homes (with 20,300 ground-mounted solar panels), and is expected to last around 30 years. The developers are aiming to have construction completed within a time-frame of about three months.
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The 11-hectare PV installation will be less than 2.5 meters in height in order to provide minimal visual impact. BNRG also played up the role such a farm could play in fostering biodiversity on site, citing it as an added advantage over some other types of energy generation.
According to BNRG senior project manager Sean McMullan, the size of the plant would actually double the amount of solar energy produced on the entire Irish island at present, which is currently about 5 MW, mostly from small-scale rooftop generation.
“We believe there is considerable potential for large-scale solar generation here, particularly as a genuine alternative to other forms of renewable energy generation such as wind. This new project will more than double the total installed solar power capacity in Northern Ireland,” McMullan stated.
Shortly after the approval of this project, a 3.8 MW solar PV rooftop project in Northern Ireland was also approved. That project was proposed by the noted transportation giant Bombardier.