Plans 100-acre solar energy farm in Kilkenny
Elgin Energy is seeking permission for a major 100-acre solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Kilkenny, adding to its Midlands-wide solar power play.
The application is just the latest in a slew of proposals by developers for solar farms on sites right across the country over the past year, following a significant fall in the cost of solar PV technology.
Elgin - in which Superquinn founder Feargal Quinn was an early investor - has applied to build the power installation at a 39.6-hectare site close to the village of Ballyragget. Quinn is no longer involved in the business but the energy company is seeking permission to build similar farms at a number of other sites across the Midlands.
The company has received permission to build a 35-acre solar farm in Carlow. It has also been given the green light for farms in Laois, Offaly and Westmeath. It is also seeking permission for a development close to Athboy, Co Meath, while it was refused permission on a 28-hectare site near Courtown, Co Wexford.
The proposed solar farm will provide 25mw of power to the national grid and "will assist in the secure supply of energy for local businesses and the region as a destination for investment by large energy users through the supply of green energy", said the company in a submission to the planning authority.
Elgin said that the proposed project in Ballyragget could power 6,500 homes in the region or could provide enough power to meet 25pc of the nearby Glanbia factory's current annual electricity requirements. The project would eliminate 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifespan.
A decision on the latest Kilkenny project, which would be operational for 30 years, is due on December 5 according to Kilkenny's planning department.
In its latest submission to the planning authorities, Elgin claimed that solar PV will become "the most prevalent source of renewable technology over the coming years".
Globally, installed PV capacity is reported at around 300 gigawatts but this is expected to rise to around 1700 gigawatts by 2030. More than 12,000mw of the technology has been installed in the UK but, while proposals have risen sharply in Ireland, not many projects have yet been constructed.
In August, this newspaper reported analysis of planning applications that showed 225 applications had been received by local authorities since June 2015 and that no applications were in the system before then.
In some areas where solar farms have been proposed objectors have highlighted the fact that there are currently no national planning guidelines for the technology.
The consultation period on a proposed new renewable energy support scheme was closed on Friday.
Industry insiders said that the scheme could potentially have a major impact on the solar industry and its development in Ireland.
Sunday Indo Business