ESB pumps €2.5m into Irish solar start-up

21 Oct 2016

Cera Slevin, solar manager at ESB, with André Fernon, co-founder of Terra Solar, at NovaUCD. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

ESB has invested €2.5m for a stake in start-up Terra Solar to help accelerate the development and growth of solar energy in Ireland.

As the desire for – and technology around – solar energy continues to grow, ESB has bet big on Terra Solar: a start-up based at the University College of Dublin (UCD) accelerator, NovaUCD.

The stake ESB gets for its €2.5m investment has not been confirmed, though it is less than 50pc of the company.


Following the investment, the two businesses claimed to have the potential to deliver over 260MW of electricity generation capacity from solar energy, which would power over 50,000 homes every year.

“We are at an inflection point for solar renewable energy generation in Ireland, which is a strategic growth area for ESB as we reduce the carbon intensity of our generation portfolio,” said Cera Slevin, manager of solar and storage for ESB generation and wholesale markets.

Calling Terra Solar “one of the most advanced” companies of its type in Ireland, Slevin said this investment will help fund multiple solar farms around the country.

Terra Solar was founded by David Fewer and André Fernon and is headquartered at NovaUCD, with plans for solar farms in Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford.

ESB’s stake in the company will help lower Ireland’s carbon footprint, according to Slevin, and it will contribute to increased energy production from renewable resources.

“A decarbonising electricity system can also help take oil out of the wider economy, particularly through electrification of the heat and transport sectors,” she said.

While in its infancy in Ireland, solar energy projects are booming elsewhere. Renewable energy production in general is growing at around 30pc every year in the US. Solar farms are growing, public interest is growing, and traditional energy production is being phased out.

“In the US, if you look at the new additions of power plants in the US last year, the significant majority were in renewables, the rest were gas,” said Julia Hamm, CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

The UK generates nearly 10,000MW of electricity from solar PV technology, enough to power over 2m homes.

Ireland is playing catch-up but, with investments such as this, the desire is there.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic