CORK County Council has granted planning approval for two new 5MW solar farms – in Beal na Bláth and Ballinvarrig near Whitechurch in Co Cork.
This follows on from two other solar farms being built by the same firm – Amarenco – in West Cork. The independent Irish power company is building two 20-acre solar farms, one in Kilmoney outside Carrigaline, and another one in Timoleague.
Throughout Munster, Amarenco has received planning permission for over 20 solar farms, most of which will be in North and East Cork, as well as West Waterford.
Like the sites in Carrigaline and Timoleague, the Beal na Bláth site has already received planning permission. Construction at Beal na Bláth is scheduled to begin early next year.
Each of the solar farms will comprise approximately 22,200 photovoltaic panels on ground-mounted frames within a site area of 10.2 hectares and each project will employ 40 during the
Following the granting of permission for the new facilities, Amarenco, headquartered in Cork, now has ten plants with total capacity of 50MW with full planning approval, in Cork and Waterford.
The solar plants will be on farming lands that claim to provide farmers with a stable source of revenue and ‘ensure the viability of agriculture for decades to come’, according to a statement. Sheep can also be farmed on the lands.
It is expected that the Irish government will announce tariffs applicable to solar farms by the end of June.
These facilities aim to help the government hit the EU 2020 renewable energy targets which, on the basis of current momentum, will not be reached. Once introduced, companies will need funding to build solar farms across Ireland.
Chief executive of Amarenco Solar John Mullins, the former chief executive of Bord Gáis, said: ‘These application approvals by Cork County Council are very welcome news and part of a significant number of applications being prepared by Amarenco. We are strongly committed to solar energy in Ireland. The government needs to recognise the importance of solar and follow the lead of all other EU countries and publish solar PV tariffs sooner rather than later.’
He added that, to date, Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not have a policy towards solar, the fastest growing source of electricity in the world. ‘It is important for the government to note the importance of these facilities, and the positive impact, in not only Munster, but Ireland.
‘The construction of these solar farms will boost the Irish economy through the generation of employment, benefit the agricultural sector and create a significant new source of renewable energy,’ he claimed.