Solar industry ‘could power a million homes’

Solar industry ‘could power a million homes’
The evening sun glows on Courtmacsherry Harbour, West Cork. Picture: Martin Walsh.

AN active solar industry in Ireland could produce enough energy every day to provide up to one million homes with clean renewable energy in weather like this.

That is according to Cork-based company Amarenco Solar, who made the claim as the country continues to soak up the rays during this extended period of good weather.

The company, which was founded by former Bord Gais boss and Cork Chamber President John Mullins, has planning approval for ten solar plants in Munster - nine in Cork and one in Waterford.

The company says that on days like those experienced this week the industry will be able to produce 9,144 MWHrs of electricity through renewable solar energy. 

This is the equivalent capacity to provide enough energy to power one million homes. The industry would save 4,453 tonnes of carbon in one day.

“These numbers are a testimony to the huge dividend that can be accrued to Ireland from solar energy,” Mr Mullins said. 

“The two-fold benefit of clean, easy to access renewable energy, combined with the huge carbon emission saving, is clearly the way forward.” 

The company is calling on the Government to publish a subsidy scheme, which will allow it and other providers to move forward with construction of the solar plants.

“The solar sector awaits a final decision by Government on renewable tariffs through Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS),” Mr Mullins said. 

“Amarenco and others in the solar sector can move immediately in response to a positive RESS outcome. Funding is in place and the solar plants are ready to be built now and they can be constructed within three months of commencement.” 

Mr Mullins says the solar farms would allow Ireland avoid fines for failing to meet EU targets on renewable energy.

“Failure to introduce the scheme quickly will have very serious ramifications for Ireland from 2020 onwards, when the threat of the taxpayer paying fines becoming a starker reality,” he said. 

“Ireland will be forced to make payments to other countries by buying renewable credits. The Government is fully aware of these implications and we have confidence that the Minister and his cabinet colleagues will respond in the appropriate manner.” 

Amarenco Solar says each of its 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 construction phase. 

The plants will be on farming lands which the company says will help farmers increase and diversify income by providing a stable source of revenue. 

Sheep will also be farmed on the all solar farmlands.

“The solar sector can help to keep Irish taxpayers’ money in Ireland,” Mr Mullins said. 

“Furthermore significant domestic jobs will be raised, which in turn will contribute to the exchequer in the form of income taxes, VAT and rates. The agricultural sector will also benefit significantly“.

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