The 5.1 megawatt (MW) facility, being developed by BNRG Northern Power, will be located in East Down on the outskirts of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland and will deliver an investment of €7.6 million and support around 50 jobs during construction and up to five long-term employment opportunities.
David Maguire, Founder and Director of BNRG said that “The Company was delighted to become the first company to gain planning permission for a solar farm of this scale in Northern Ireland and indeed on the island of Ireland.” The company has revealed it has a committed pipeline of similar projects in East Down which would bring its initial combined investment to circa €44 million.
According to Sean McMullan, Senior Project Manager the new photovoltaic (PV) park will be capable of generating sufficient electricity to power 1500 homes every year during its 30 years proposed life-span. It will take just three months to construct the 20,300 ground-mounted PV panels and related equipment for the 27-acre solar farm. The height of the panels above ground level will not exceed 2.5 meters thus causing no visual impact. It is expected that the project will actually enhance biodiversity on the site which is a benefit of solar power over other forms of power generation.
Mr McMullan said: “There are currently only around five megawatts solar energy produced in Northern Ireland, from mainly small-scale roof-mounted panels. 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”.
Solar PV benefits from being easy to install, enjoys widespread public support and has a major role in connecting individuals, communities and businesses. In addition to supporting economic regeneration it also helps sustain our environment and reduce carbon emissions. The granting of approval for this scheme is great news for Northern Ireland.