John Horgan, Chairman, Bord na Móna; Mike Quinn, CEO, Bord na Móna; Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD and Chief Executive of ESB Pat O'Doherty
On the same day where a public meeting in Lanesboro heard concerns about Bord na Móna’s proposed plans to construct a 28 turbine wind farm at Derryadd, the semi-state company, alongside ESB, announced a co-development agreement to develop solar power at Mount Dillon.
Mount Dillon, which straddles the border between counties Roscommon and Longford, is one of four locations where ESB and Bord na Móna intend to invest €500m in huge solar farms which will generate a total of 570 megawatts of electricity. The other locations are in Timahoe, Kildare and Blackwater, Offaly.
Chief Executive of ESB Pat O’Doherty said: “ESB’s deep relationship with Bord na Móna in the Midlands spans decades. This new partnership – with the potential to power 150,000 homes and businesses - reinforces our confidence in solar to help Ireland meet its carbon reduction targets beyond 2020.”
Mike Quinn, CEO, Bord na Móna outlined that community consultation will be placed at the heart of the project.
“From our long history of working together in communities right across Ireland, Bord na Móna and ESB bring considerable expertise and knowledge in delivering best in class community engagement around our projects, ensuring a clear commitment to open and transparent engagement with households adjacent to any proposed development.”
Mr Quinn concluded, “The solar industry, although in its infancy here in Ireland, has the potential to form an important part of Ireland’s future energy mix in the medium to long term. To that end, ESB and Bord na Móna believe in collaborating on, and investing in, the development of this clean and efficient energy source.”
Speaking at Thursday’s launch in Derrygreenagh, Co Offaly, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD said, “The announcement builds on the rich legacy of partnership between Bord na Móna and the ESB, as our society rises to a new challenge - the challenge of decarbonisation.”
To date the focus of sustainable energy investment has predominantly been on onshore wind, and although Minister Naughten admitted that wind will continue to have a major role in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system he expects other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role.
To date only 6MW of solar PV is installed in Ireland – almost entirely on rooftops.
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland recently published a report on the Ireland's Solar Value Chain Opportunity. Minister Naughten remarked, “This report showed that the cost of solar PV modules has fallen by 80% since 2009 and is set to continue to fall in future years. The reduction in solar PV prices will lead to solar becoming more cost competitive and thus taking a greater share of new renewable energy developments.”
He concluded, “This co-development agreement places this technology at the heart of the solutions needed by our economy and society. Depleted cutaway bogs, once a resource powering peat-burning power stations, have become a key resource in the production of clean energy.”