Solar ‘transformation’ on the way as 66 new solar farms have been approved to provide power

A MOVE in solar farm development has been approved after 66 projects were approved to feed electricity into the grid.

They are among 80 successful bidders from 130 projects bidding for contracts in the recent Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction.

RESS offers them a guaranteed electricity price for up to 16 years and offers backers a financial incentive to build.

Solar power dominated the process, with onshore wind farms accounting for just 14 of the approved projects.

The selected projects have been provisionally approved by Eirgrid pending formal government approval in the coming weeks.

Not all are expected to proceed as investment decisions may change, but all have received planning permission.

When all completed, they would generate a combined capacity to generate 1,534 megawatts (MW) of solar power and 414 MW from wind – a 20 percent increase in the renewable generation capacity currently available.

Conall Bolger, chief executive of the Irish Solar Energy Association, described the results for solar as “transformative”.

So far there is only one solar farm in the republic that supplies the national grid, the Millvale project, which opened in Co Wicklow last month.

“Ireland has tremendous potential to deliver a significant amount of solar power, as demonstrated by the volume release in this auction,” Mr Bolger said.

“If this RESS 2 capacity is delivered, it would provide enough power to power over 350,000 Irish homes.”

Climate Protection Secretary Eamon Ryan said the permits would build on Ireland’s strong wind base and diversify electricity supply from solar.

“Renewable energy supplied under the program will protect consumers from high prices and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels related to the phasing out of Russian energy imports to the EU,” he said.

The 66 tentatively approved solar projects are mainly spread across the East, South East, South and Midlands, but there are also some in the West.

The 14 new wind farms are located in the Midlands, West and South West.

Noel Cunniffe, Managing Director of Wind Energy Ireland, welcomed the results but warned that the electricity grid urgently needs to be strengthened to transport power from the new and diverse generation sources.

“The weaker the grid, the more power is lost, forcing projects to charge more for the power they can produce,” he said. Solar ‘transformation’ on the way as 66 new solar farms have been approved to provide power

Fry Electronics Team

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