Ireland’s first grid scale solar farm to be fully operational from MayBlathnaid O’Deaon April 29, 2022 at 15:50 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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Ireland’s first grid scale solar farm is to be fully operational from next month. The Millvale solar farm was officially opened today (April 29) by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan.

Millvale is located near Ashford in Co Wicklow and is operated by renewable energy company Neoen under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). The 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 opened in 2020, while the second scheme opened today with final results due in mid-June.

Millvale farm occupies 25 hectares and has 33,600 solar modules, which is enough to power around 3,600 homes every year. It means Ireland could potentially avoid 4,800 tonnes in CO2 emissions.

Millvale is the one of three sites run by Neoen that has secured support under the first RESS, with the other two being Hilltown in Co Meath and Hortland in Co Kildare. Those two sites are solar farms still under construction. The Millvale site has a generation capacity of 15MWp.

The Wicklow farm is the first of many solar projects to reach commercial operation under RESS 1. It is also the first of almost 600MW of solar generation capacity secured in the auction.

According to Ryan, Millvale is “the first of many solar projects expected to energise under the RESS this year. 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 farm, with its CEO Conall Bolger urging 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.”

Cyril Perrin, MD of Neoen Ireland, said the company was delighted by the speed at which they were able to deliver the Millvale project. He thanked Wicklow County Council, ESB Networks, BNG, the main contractor Omexom, as well as its subcontractors and the local landowners and residents of Millvale.

“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. Neoen has had teams in Ireland since 2019. The construction of the solar farms has created around 100 jobs, with 11 local companies involved in the work. Neoen also operates eight wind farms in the Republic of Ireland.

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