Strong solar growth could save €106m per year in Ireland

Strong solar growth could save €106m per year in Ireland

Published: 4 Mar 2021, 12:47

Image: David Meehan (Elgin Energy).

Solar growth in Ireland could provide an annual saving of €21 (£18) per citizen, according to a new report from international advisory firm, AFRY.

It modelled three scenarios with different levels of solar and wind, to establish the most effective way of meeting the Government’s target of 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

Within these, the highest solar scenario saw a total €106 million (£91.5 million) annual saving, as there are significant benefits from a diversified portfolio of generation assets.

If Ireland is to install enough solar to power 1.2 million households as shown in this high penetration scenario, fewer less efficient fossil fuel generators will be required during the daytime, when operational demand is at its highest. This also leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which fall 8% in the high solar scenario.

The report was commissioned by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA), who welcomed its findings with CEO, Conall Bolger highlighting that maximising solar resources in the near term “will more efficiently decarbonise our economy and provide Irish citizens with an economic gain.

“This solar bounty can be ours if our energy policy recognises the hidden value of solar. A good first step would be keeping a solar pot in this year’s RESS auction, rather than forcing wind and solar to compete, resulting in our comparing apples with oranges. As this report shows, the auction price doesn’t tell the full story.”

Ireland’s first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction took place last August, with solar taking a surprise 796MW. There were 63 successful solar PV projects from 20 companies that ranged in size from 0.5MW to 119MW, with the most common project size of 4MW making up around half of the successful projects according to research from Solar Media.

Activity in the country has been picking up pace over the past year, with Irish solar developer Elgin Energy celebrating the installation of the country’s first bifacial modules in September, and an increasingly large number of international companies getting their foot in the door. This includes EDF Renewables continuing its Irish expansion with the acquisition of Wexford Solar Limited and NTR acquiring a 54MW portfolio of co-located solar and storage projects from RES.

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