Irish utility plans to have 58 MW of solar generating next year


English-owned Irish utility Bord Gáis Energy has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with renewables developer Neoen to take all the electricity to be generated by three solar farms the French company is constructing in Ireland.

A press release published on the Bord Gáis website today, but date stamped “November,” said Neoen is installing arrays with a total generation capacity of 58 MWp at Hortland, in County Kildare; Hilltown, in County Meath; and Millvale, County Wicklow, and the facilities will start generating next year.

Bord Gáis will be sole offtaker for the clean power until 2037.

Although the power company – which is owned by the Centrica energy business based in Windsor – did not state how much it would pay for the electricity procured, the three sites were allocated in the first auction round held under Ireland's Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. That procurement exercise allocated 796 MW of solar capacity for an average strike price of €0.0729/kWh.

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The strike price figure, set by the lowest developer bids at auction, represents the actual income for project developers who will sell energy on the wholesale market. When the wholesale price of electricity is below the solar strike price, public money tops up the payments, when the reverse is true, the developer refunds the difference to the payments authority.

Bord Gáis said the PV projects “would be amongst the earliest utility scale solar plants in Ireland,” and added, they would supply enough electricity to power 12,700 homes.

The Irish company said it has a 230 MW wind power generation portfolio and this year partnered with Danish solar investor Obton and Dublin-based PV developer Shannon Energy to “manage” the power to be generated across 11 solar projects with a total 118 MW of generation capacity, all of which was also allocated in the first round of the national renewables program.

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