Friday 23 March 2018

Amarenco 'surprised' at ESB solar plan

John Mullins, former chief executive of Bord Gais
John Mullins, former chief executive of Bord Gais
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The chief executive of Irish solar firm Amarenco, former Bord Gáis boss John Mullins, said he welcomes what he calls the ESB's "new-found support" for solar power.

The ESB is to embark on a joint venture with Bord na Móna to build four solar farms in the midlands at a cost of about €500m. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Mullins said he was surprised that the venture had been announced before the Government even delivers a policy initiative that will determine how solar power will be subsidised.

The Government has already pledged to deliver a policy initiative in relation to solar power development here before the end of June.

But the ESB's head of regulation and strategy, Peter O'Shea, said last year that the Government should not introduce subsidies for solar-power generation here.

He claimed that introducing a tariff for solar would lock customers in to paying a higher subsidy, which will be reflected in higher electricity prices.

Mr Mullins, who described the planned joint venture between the ESB and Bord na Móna as a "mega semi-state merger", said a large number of private firms - including Amarenco - are already lined up to deliver solar projects.

He claimed that there's a "cost-competitiveness issue" in relation to the semi-state bodies being able to develop solar farms on large land banks that they already own, where private operators have to either lease or buy land.

Mr Mullins also predicted that the roll-out of the four solar farms planned by the ESB-Bord na Móna partnership would be delayed because of environmental and other issues.

Irish Independent

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