The Ballymacarney solar farm is expected to create enough energy to power more than 40,000 homes.
Renewables company Statkraft has begun construction on Ireland’s largest solar farm in Ballymacarney, Co Meath.
The 200MW project is also set to be one of Ireland’s first operational solar farms. It is intended to meet Ireland’s ambitious climate action target of 70pc renewables by 2030.
Statkraft’s Ballymacarney project was granted planning permission in 2018 and the Government gave the green light for construction this year. The solar farm is set to be fully operational by the end of 2022.
The Government awarded the project a contract in its first Renewable Energy Support Scheme which provides financial support to renewable energy projects in Ireland.
Ballymacarney was one of four projects to be awarded through the scheme, and one of only two solar projects. The total energy generated by these projects amounts to 333MW, according to Statkraft.
Statkraft said its Ballymacarney project was included in the scheme because it significantly benefits the local community. It is expected to deliver more than €40,000 per year to local community initiatives and create enough energy to power more than 40,000 homes.
Kevin O’Donovan, managing director of Statkraft Ireland, said that supporting and developing renewable energy such as solar is the solution to major challenges such as reducing emissions and combating climate change.
Ireland’s capacity to deliver on all kinds of renewable energy is necessary to meet its ambitious Climate Action Plan which sets a target of delivering 70pc of energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.
“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,” O’Donovan said.
Statkraft has an additional 450MW of planned solar projects to be constructed in the coming years to help Ireland meet its 2030 targets, Statkraft Ireland’s head of development Donal O’Sullivan said.
Statkraft is a Norwegian state-owned energy company which claims to be Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. It has 4,500 employees in 17 countries.
The company’s Irish offices are headquartered in Cork with an additional team in Tullamore. It began its Irish operations after acquiring Element Power Ireland in 2018.
Statkraft has paid more than €10m for the rights to five solar farm projects in Cork, Laois, Meath and Tipperary, according to the Irish Independent.