Lightsource BP, a London-headquartered renewable energy firm, is planning to invest €180 million in Ireland over the coming years to develop three large-scale solar farms.
The company, which was founded in 2020 by Nick Boyle, the Northern Ireland businessman, is at the pre-planning stage to develop three separate solar projects that will each be capable of producing 100MW (megawatts) of energy.
Tara Reale, head of business development in Ireland and the UK for Lightsource BP, said the firm was aiming to submit each project for planning approval later this year.
“We’ve been operating in Ireland for the past six years so we’ve developed a really strong knowledge of the local market, how to select good sites and where we need to be for grid connections,” Reale told the Business Post.
“We have three new projects in the pipeline that will deliver a combined 300MW of solar power to the Irish market. The planned projects will be located in Offaly, Kilkenny and Carlow and each will be about 100MW in size.
“We’re currently at the pre-planning consultative phase with the local councils and will be engaging with local communities in each county about the projects as they progress,” she said.
Lightsource BP employs over 700 people with operations in 17 countries. The company is one of the largest players in the global solar PV sector, having developed 3,800MW of solar power to date.
BP, the British oil giant, came on board in 2018 after it invested €175 million to acquire a 43 per cent stake in the company. The energy giant then increased its stake in Lightsource to 50 per cent two years later.
The firm plans to increase its solar capacity more than sixfold by 2025 to 25,000MW through a series of large-scale projects in the US, India, Europe and the Middle East. Reale said Ireland was part of its ambitious expansion plans, with the firm hoping to develop 500MW of solar projects here over the coming years.
Lightsource received planning permission for a 24MW solar farm in Tipperary in 2016, and developed a series of five other solar projects, which it ultimately sold.
Reale said the company had a strong pipeline of renewables projects coming down the track in Ireland, which bodes well for the government’s target to have 80 per cent of all power derived from renewable sources by 2030.