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Amarenco is pressing ahead with plans to build 11 solar farms

Former Bord Gáis chief John Mullins's renewable energy business Amarenco is pressing ahead with plans to build 11 solar farms here.

The proposals had been on hold pending the outcome of Government deliberations on a subsidy scheme for renewable electricity.

The scheme was published earlier this week, and on foot of the details in it Mr Mullins has decided to commence preparations for construction.

“The announcement by Minister Naughten is very welcome and now brings Ireland in line with most other European Union nations in terms of an official recognition of solar energy, which is the fastest growing renewable energy sector on the planet,” Mr Mullins said. “Amarenco has been calling for this support for some considerable time and we will now commence our preparatory work for the installation of solar farms to provide Ireland's electricity grid with much needed clean electricity. “We expect to have our first solar farm operational by end 2019.” The company said it expects to invest €70m in the 11 solar farms.



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BNRG's head office

BNRG breaks ground in US

BNRG Renewables has begun construction of a portfolio of 10 solar photovoltaic projects totalling 35 Megawatts (MW) in the US state of Oregon.

It represents the delivery of the first batch of US projects the company has been developing since 2016.

The projects have secured a 20-year power purchase agreement with local utility Portland General Electric. The 35MW is the equivalent of providing the electricity demand of more than 11,500 homes, and saving some 18,600 tonnes of carbon, over 30 years. Construction started in early June on the first three projects. All are expected to be completed by mid-2019. BNRG is financing the project through a $35 million facility and a longer-term sale and leaseback tax equity arrangement provided by SunTrust Bank.



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Panels being installed on Kilkenny dairy farm.

More good news for Elgin Energy

Elgin Energy has received planning permission for a 4MW project in Portarlington, Co. Offaly. The project will connect to the local Portarlington 38kV substation. As part of the planning process, negotiations with Irish Rail were carried out to secure rights to cross the railway line with a MV cable. We have also secured grid consents for this project.

In June, Elgin launched a pilot scheme on a Kilkenny dairy farm by installing a 10kWp ground mount system. The scheme was developed in partnership with Activ8 Solar Energies. It was energised on Wednesday 13 June and is expected to save farmer, Cathal Moran, €1,300 per annum on his electricity bill. The project was connected during the heatwave and has been producing twice as much energy as expected for the month of June. The ground mount system is a bespoke design from Italy allowing for ground structures to be installed by hand as opposed to using traditional piling rigs for piled foundations.



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Irish solar company BNRG breaks ground in US

Irish solar company BNRG Renewables has begun construction of a portfolio of 10 solar photovoltaic projects totalling 35 Megawatts (MW) in the US state of Oregon.

It represents the delivery of the first batch of US projects the company has been developing since 2016.

The projects have secured a 20-year power purchase agreement with local utility Portland General Electric. The 15MW is the equivalent of providing the electricity demand of 5,000 homes, and saving some 8,000 tonnes of carbon, every year for 30 years.

Construction started in early June on the first three projects. All are expected to be completed by mid-2019. BNRG is financing the project through a $35 million facility and a longer-term sale and leaseback tax equity arrangement provided by SunTrust Bank.

BNRG director David Maguire said the US was an important strategic market and represented a major milestone for any European company.

“Together with our Maine portfolio, which is currently under development, we expect to complete construction of 150MW of projects in the US by mid-2020,” he added.

BNRG completed the Laurel Hill project in Co Down in March, delivering 14MW of power in the last large-scale renewable project to benefit from the UK’s Renewable Obligation Certificate support scheme.
BNRG has a significant pipeline of 300MW of projects in the Republic in partnership with Paris-based independent power producer Neoen. “Progress has been rapid . . . with planning permission and grid connection agreements secured on six projects in the south and east of Ireland, ” Mr Maguire said.

Competitive auctions

It expects policy support by way of competitive auctions under the Renewable Energy Support Scheme due to be announced by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten shortly.

Mr Maguire noted that BNRG had started developing projects in the US later than they started in Ireland, “yet they are already constructing their first US projects”. The company expects to commence construction on the first projects in the Republic next year.

Commenting on wind and solar projects that could be constructed and grid-connected by 2021, he said: “By this time next year, we estimate over 1,800MW of solar and over 400MW of wind will be ready to compete in an auction. If we run a good competitive auction, solar could deploy over 1,500MW before 2021. This would have the effect of meeting half the shortfall on our 2020 targets [for renewable electricity].

“This could save the exchequer over €200 million in annual fines or statistical transfers,” he said.

“The cost of a 20-year CFD [contract for difference] for this quantum of solar would average at just over €18 million per annum to the consumer. The maths is simple and this is a no-brainer,” he said. He would like to see a competitive technology-specific auction for a 20-year indexed CFD. This would deliver the best value to the Irish consumer and attract in the lowest cost of capital to wind and solar projects here.

Planning guidelines

“Technology-specific will be important to deliver a diversity in the energy mix and true price discovery in the market. Technology-agnostic will either delivery wind only or wind at a higher price. I would hope the Minister will also give a clear signal to the market and set out the quantum of an annual auction from now until 2021, and 2022 to 2030.”

In the absence of planning guidelines, the Irish Solar Energy Association – of which he is chairman – has produced its own recommendations, and circulated them to stakeholders; local authorities, relevant government departments and An Bord Pleanála. It has also submitted its views to the Government on community ownership and community benefit in renewable projects, and how that could work.

BNRG recently opened an office in Singapore and moved into the Australian market where it has agreed commercial terms with a local company to develop a significant number of large-scale projects.

“The strategy of the company is to be active in a number of countries at the same time to mitigate against political or regulatory uncertainty and to ensure that you always have assets under development, construction and operation at any one moment in time.”

Founded in 2007, Dublin-based BNRG has developed, financed and constructed more than 115MW of ground-mounted and rooftop projects, valued at about €220 million, in the UK, Bulgaria and Greece.

Source Irish Times Kevin O'Sullivan Environment & Science Editor



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Solar Electric announces success story with second project for the Defence Forces

In a year where commercial scale rooftop market growth has not met expectations, we are delighted to announce our success with our second project for the Defence Forces. In 2017 we completed 90 kWp on Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin.

We started 2018 with an order for 165 kWp from the Defence Forces for Custume Barracks Athlone. The project is now complete, on time and on budget, and visitors to Athlone can see the system from across the river.

We utilised 270 watt modules from JA together with Solis inverters and a mounting system designed specifically for standing-seam roofs. Customers in 2018 are getting great value as component prices continue to drop and we are able to purchase full truck-loads of components direct from the manufacturers.

- Robert Goss - Solarelectric



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3D image of the project which is beside an existing windfarm and M7 motorway.

Entrust announce success for large solar farm in Tipperary

On 24th April, Entrust Planning Consultants received planning permission for the largest solar farm granted permission by An Bord Pleanala to date.

The 143.6 acre 25 MW solar farm is located near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.

The project was initially granted permission by Tipperary County Council but was appealed by a third party.



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Image courtesy of Elgin Energy

Elgin Energy success with 50 MW project in Scotland

Elgin Energy has received planning permission for a 50 MW solar PV project at Milltown Airfield near Elgin in Moray. This is the largest consented solar PV project in Scotland to date.

Permission granted for largest solar farm in Scotland Developer Elgin Energy consented for 50 MW project at Milltown Airfield Elgin Energy has received planning permission for a 50 MW solar PV project at Milltown Airfield near Elgin in Moray. This is the largest consented solar PV project in Scotland to date.

Read the full article on Smart Solar.
 

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