Questions about Ireland’s ability to meet renewable energy targets after solar farm delay

The chief executive of Strategic Power Projects has questioned Ireland’s ability to deliver on its renewable energy ambitions after a spate of objections to a major solar farm in County Kildare.

aul Carson said the solar farm will now be “postponed indefinitely” after the €100 million project was referred to An Bord Pleanála for further consideration. The project was initially approved by Kildare County Council last month.

Strategic Power had planned to build the facility on a 129-acre site in Swordlestown outside of Naas. The Dublin-based company said the farm could power more than 20,000 homes in the area.

However, the decision met some opposition in the community, with 15 appeals filed with An Bord Pleanála.

The appeals were made by local residents, as well as Friends of Swordlestown Little Stud and the Punchestown Area Community Group.

The Punchestown Area Community Group said it believes the economic fallout in the area would be “very significant” due to the loss of prime agricultural land related to the size of the site. They also raised concerns about the presence of the blood breeding industry in the area and the location’s proximity to Punchestown Racecourse.

Strategic Power said the site was chosen after a detailed assessment of the region, including socio-environmental impacts.

Mr Carson said the deployment of solar energy was “urgently needed” for Ireland to meet its target of 80 per cent renewable electricity on the grid by 2030.

“The climate is changing, energy costs are through the roof and, more worryingly, demand could exceed supply this winter, leaving homes and businesses without energy,” he said.

He also pointed to possible charges for electricity consumption during peak hours between 5pm and 7pm, which Strategic Power says could add €26 to the average household bill.

“We cannot continue to see renewable projects, which the country desperately needs to accelerate, being delayed in the planning system, especially given the impact this is having on people who are already struggling to pay energy bills,” he said.

“It’s time for Ireland to have a national conversation to decide whether or not it is up to the challenge of meeting its renewable energy targets.” Questions about Ireland’s ability to meet renewable energy targets after solar farm delay

Fry Electronics Team

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