Record Results for Solar in Northern Ireland
BNRG Press Release 22th Nov 2018
The dry summer may not have been great for agriculture in Ireland this year, however it did produce record results for solar in Northern Ireland. On the BNRG Renewable’s developed solar project at Laurel Hill in Co. Down, record production levels were recorded from the project throughout the summer. The 14.2 megawatt (MW) solar PV plant located near Donaghcloney in Co. Down, developed by Irish company, BNRG Renewables and constructed by Engie Fabricom is a highly innovative site and the last solar project in the UK to be connected to the grid under the UK’s Renewable Obligation Scheme. The project was fully accredited this summer by Ofgem. The project was recently acquired from BNRG by the Foresight Group (Foresight) who had previously part-financed project construction with BNRG. Foresight’s acquisition financing involved debt provided by NatWest. Project Manager at BNRG Kaj Christiansen stated that “this is not the first project that we have built with Engie, nor the first transaction that we have completed with Foresight. It was a pleasure working with these partners again as the teams have worked well together”.
The 68-acre site is made up of 44,381 solar panels and during the summer months generated almost 8GWh of green electricity which is equivalent to burning 3,500,000 kg of coal. The project is expected to provide enough electricity to power over 3,200 homes annually for the next 30 years.
The sensitive approach to planning and design was adopted by BNRG. Christiansen commented “our ambition was not only to limit adverse effects on the environment but to enhance it. The site has now been landscaped with over 20,000 native shrubs and semi-mature woodland trees”. Further biodiversity measures include the dedicated wildflower zones that are located throughout the site where meadow land is created, and indigenous species can thrive without agricultural interference. BNRG worked with local stakeholders and residents alike to ensure the smooth transition of this 68-acre site into a green energy hub. Once the wildflower zone has become established, the site will be sheep grazed, which both retains the agricultural spirit of the land and the surrounding area while also allowing for a cost-effective approach to field maintenance.
David Maguire, Director at BNRG emphasised that “The project was particularly important for BNRG, as it was the first large scale project that we energised on the island of Ireland. We are delighted with the result and hope it’s the first of many in Ireland”. He revealed that BNRG is currently developing over 300MW of projects in the Republic of Ireland through a 50:50 joint venture with Neoen, a French Independent Power Producer with a €1.6bn market capitalisation. The projects are being developed in anticipation of a competitive auction commencing next year. BNRG’s activity is not just limited to Ireland, they recently commenced construction on 33MW in Oregon, USA and have a large portfolio of over 225MW under development in the North Eastern USA and a similar portfolio in Australia.
Matt Hammond, Director Foresight Group commented: “Our renewable energy infrastructure strategy has gained significant traction in Northern Ireland where we have now added solar to previous clean energy acquisitions that include CHP, on-farm Anaerobic Digestion and wind power projects. We are delighted to have partnered once again with BNRG Renewables and Engie on the acquisition of Laurel Hill.”