The opening of the Millvale site in Wicklow has been hailed as a ‘key starting point’ in Ireland’s solar energy plans.
The first solar farm to be connected to Ireland’s electricity grid is to be fully operational from the end of next month.
The Millvale solar farm was officially opened today (29 April) by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD.
Millvale is located near Ashford in Co Wicklow and was developed by renewable energy company Neoen under the Government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).
RESS is a competitive, auction-based scheme that invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate. The first RESS projects were approved in 2020, while the results of the second scheme are due in mid-June.
The Millvale site is the first of many solar projects to reach commercial operation under RESS-1.
It occupies 25 hectares and has 33,600 solar modules, which is enough to power around 3,600 homes every year and potentially avoid 4,800 tonnes in CO2 emissions.
Millvale is the one of three sites run by Neoen that secured support under the first RESS, with the other two being Hilltown in Co Meath and Hortland in Co Kildare. These two solar farms are still under construction.
“This the first of many solar projects expected to energise under the RESS this year,” Ryan said.
“It’s a key starting point on our journey, under the Climate Action Plan, to install up to 2.5GW of solar energy on the electricity system by 2030.”
The Irish Solar Energy Association welcomed the opening of the solar farm. It CEO Conall Bolger said that solar “must and will be a major part” of Ireland’s decarbonisation plans. “2022 will be the year where solar arrives in Ireland in a significant way,” he added.
Cyril Perrin, MD of Neoen Ireland, said the company was delighted by the speed at which it was able to deliver the Millvale project.
“The three new plants provide a solid foundation for actively pursuing further solar, wind and storage projects to drive our growth in Ireland,” he added.
French company Neoen has had teams in Ireland since 2019 and also operates eight windfarms in the country with a combined capacity of 53.4MW.
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