Saturday 10 December 2016

Irish solar group to develop US projects worth $200m after Congress ruling

Published 03/07/2016 | 02:30

Concerns for the many farmers who have committed over 20,000 acres of land to solar energy contracts. Stock photo: PA
Concerns for the many farmers who have committed over 20,000 acres of land to solar energy contracts. Stock photo: PA

Irish solar energy group BNRG has committed to developing $200m worth of solar assets in the US.

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The company has acquired rights from local developers in Oregon and New England to develop 140 megawatts of large, utility-scale solar energy projects.

Each project already has a state-backed power purchase agreement - a commitment by a US state to buy power at an index-linked price for 20 years.

It will cost around $200m in total to develop everything. Construction should begin next year.

This is BNRG's first foray into the US. Until now it has been mainly focused in Europe.

The company is led by Irish environmental scientist David Maguire. His decision to target the US was partly prompted by a decision by Congress last year to extend investment tax credits for renewable energy until 2021.

The US was already one of the world's biggest clean-energy investors. Last week it joined Mexico and Canada in setting a goal that at least 50pc of North America's energy will come from "clean" sources by 2025.

"The US has policy certainty and has made a clear commitment to renewable energy," Maguire told the

At home, he and other solar energy com- panies are calling on the Government to introduce subsidies for solar energy.

The Irish Solar Energy Association said solar is the only renewable energy technology that does not qualify for any form of a subsidy in Ireland. It claimed this puts Ireland's ability to meet EU 2020 targets for renewable energy at risk.

"Despite the successful deployment of wind energy in Ireland, which had considerable state support, wind alone will not ensure we reach that goal. However, solar, which is a material part of the established solution for other countries, is still in its embryonic state here," it said.

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