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Latest updates from BNRG Renewables

We cannot afford to ignore the potential of solar power

Contrary what you may think solar irradiance in Ireland is good and comparable to much of the UK, is about 78% of that of France and better than the Netherlands, all countries that have deployed significant volumes of solar PV in recent years. In advance of an expected policy support there has been a significant interest in solar in Ireland recently with over 2.5 Gigawatts of solar PV grid connection applications into ESB Networks as of last week. That’s a massive level of investment and interest from the players in the market. It shows a real belief that policy support will be forthcoming. Coillte, Bord na Mona, SSE and now ESB have thrown their hats into the ring having all recently announced that they are seeking to diversify their generation businesses into solar and currently drafting plans to develop significant solar capacity over the coming years. Seasoned industry experts like BNRG Renewables, Power Capital and Amarenco have made significant investment in Ireland already and recruited new teams to develop solar in their home country in anticipation of policy support.

SEAI (technical advisor to government on energy matters) and the EPA (technical advisor to government on environmental matters) have announced recently that we are significantly behind reaching our 2020 targets in electricity, heat and transport. SEAI confirm that we need to deploy 250MW of wind every year between now and 2020 to achieve our renewable targets or risk significant fines from Europe. Yet the average deployment of wind in the last few years has been 177MW per annum. With the rising tide of public sentiment against wind in planning, this is highly challenging and Ireland is likely to face significant fines of over €150 million per 1% of target missed per annum. Despite the fact that large scale solar is the cheapest form of renewable energy after onshore wind and can be rapidly deployed, the SEAI failed to mention solar PV in their recent report, Ireland’s Energy Targets, Progress, Ambition & Impacts. (April 2016). This report is a ‘Summary for Policy-Makers’. This lack of inclusion of solar PV in the thinking of SEAI is a matter of concern as solar is the single most prominent form of renewable energy worldwide (Bloomberg estimate that every year in the last five years, total global investment in solar has surpassed that of wind by a material margin). Indeed The Economist this month estimates that the global new investment in solar last year was over US$161 billion, more than natural gas and coal combined. Europe is still the world leader in solar PV deployed with over 100 gigawatts of installed capacity, yet Ireland is the last EU member to award any policy support to this leading technology. Why have SEAI not mentioned solar PV as a viable renewable energy technology given it is the dominant generation technology globally and the cheapest source of renewable generation after onshore wind in Ireland?

Co-funded by SEAI, The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) commissioned an independent report into the potential of solar energy in Ireland; A Brighter Future, The Potential Benefits of Solar PV in Ireland (KPMG, November 2015) which concluded that for every euro in policy support the industry would return 3 euros back into the economy and would create and sustain over 7,300 permanent jobs. It is widely accepted that solar PV supports significantly more jobs and any other form of renewable energy. As solar can deploy rapidly (1MW per week once in construction) The Report goes on to highlight that solar can make a real and immediate contribution to achieving our renewable energy targets thus avoiding significant fines. It states that Ireland could deploy over 2GW of solar PV on rooftops and in fields between 2017 and 2022 for the cost of less than 1% on the consumer bill.

Under the last support regime Ireland awarded 150MW capacity of Biomass a REFIT(Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff) ranging between 8 and 14 Euro cent per KWhr (similar to what solar is seeking). Yet the capacity factor for Biomass is circa 90% (i.e. it generates/operates 90% of the time) and for solar is closer to 12%. Thus on a capacity basis (as you only get paid for what you generate and not on what you install), you could deploy close to 1,000MW of solar for the cost of 150MW of Biomass.

So if solar were to receive a policy support, what could the deployment look like in Ireland? Much of the installations would be located in areas of high solar resource (along the south and east coast) which coincide with areas of demand (the population centres) thus avoiding additional transmission infrastructure (high voltage pylons etc.) and reducing thermal losses and maximising use of the existing grid infrastructure. While there may be over 400 (2.4 GW) connection applications received by ESB Networks, processing these applications has been slow and only a small number of grid offers have been issued. Few of these applications will result in projects built as they will be unviable under a competitive auction due to high grid connections costs (between 50% and 100% higher than other European countries), low solar resource, or high rental payments. Some developers have chosen areas of relatively low solar resource, possibly in an effort to secure land options on more favourable terms. Finally, in an effort to secure land in higher solar resource areas many developers have offered leases with unviable rental payments. The rents currently offered in the market range between €700 and as much as €1,750 per acre per year for 25 years. Anything over €1,000 is likely to struggle in a competitive auction.

 

While no large scale solar projects have been constructed in Ireland to date, I believe that policy support for solar in Ireland is a matter of time as the case is compelling and Ireland cannot ignore the solar opportunity. In 2014, BNRG Identified Ireland as a core strategic territory and appear to be well positioned in the market. We would be keen to grow the home market after spending over a decade deploying solar in other countries around Europe. It would give us huge satisfaction to bring our knowledge and business back home and deploy the cheapest form of renewable energy after onshore wind in Ireland.

Solar PV is a massive global business that Ireland has missed out on this far, but now we have late mover advantage with entering the sector when costs are low and we can learn from the mistakes of others and adopt best practice.  Solar can help ensure that we meet our 2020 targets and avoid costly fines, create more jobs than any other form of generation, and deliver a net gain to the Irish tax payer. We cannot afford to ignore solar.

 

 

Further Information

If you have any further queries please use the following details:

 

BNRG Renewables Ltd, Custom House Plaza 3, Harbourmaster Place, IFSC,

Dublin 1, Website: www.bnrg.ie, Email: gkavanagh@bnrg.ie, Telephone: +35317917882

BNRG Renewables teams up with Tata Solar and HSBC to complete €29m of solar power projects in the UK

Irish solar company BNRG Renewables’ has announced that, in partnership with the UK–based agribusiness, the Langmead Group, it completed construction in March of 20 Megawatts (MW) of solar projects. With project funding from HSBC, the Company intends to hold the four 5MW projects located in West Sussex and Wales

Mark Frettingham, HSBC Area Director for Corporate Banking in Sussex, said: “HSBC provided just under €20 million of funding to support BNRG’s latest solar energy expansion. This consisted of four term loans to allow the company to complete each of the four new solar farms which, now finished, have a combined value of €29 million and created 140 full time jobs for one year.

“BNRG are experts in solar energy and as a leading business in their industry it was vital that we provided funding which would enhance and best support the company to help it achieve its ambitions. This next stage of BNRG marks an exciting new chapter for the company and HSBC is pleased to play its part in their expansion, particularly with the positive benefits the projects will have on the environment.”

In addition to providing carbon a reduction to the tune of 10,500 tonnes per year, the four projects built on a cumulative 110 acres will together produce enough electricity to power over 6,500 homes annually for 30 years.

The main construction contractor was Solarcentury, a London based Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor specialising in solar PV projects. The 78,000 solar PV panels required for the projects were supplied by Tata Power Solar, a pioneer in the solar cell and panel manufacturing segment from India. Part of the $108 bn Tata group, the company has been supplying quality modules globally for the last 25 years.

Through these projects BNRG has become Tata Power Solar’s largest international client in 2015, by providing nearly 20 MW of panels to BNRG. Ashish Khanna, their ED & CEO said “UK has seen extraordinary growth in 2015 for solar installations and we see huge potential going forward with BNRG, even in other geographies. We are very proud to have partnered with BNRG over the year and this is a testimony of our best-in-class panels providing reliable and quality power to these projects.”

To date BNRG has developed and constructed solar farms in Greece, Bulgaria and the UK with a combined value of over €200 million. They have completed fourteen utility scale solar projects in the UK since 2011, and expect to have one further 5 Megawatt community financed project constructed and energised by June 2016.

While no large scale solar projects have been constructed in Ireland to date, BNRG Director, David Maguire believes that policy support for solar in Ireland is a matter of time and that we will see the development of solar industry in Ireland in 2017 or 2018. In the last 12 months, ESB Networks have seen a significant number of grid connection applications for solar generation in anticipation of this policy support. In 2014, BNRG Identified Ireland as a core strategic territory and appear to be well positioned in the market. Maguire added that he would be keen to grow the local business after spending over a decade deploying solar in other countries, “it would be nice to bring our knowledge and business back home and deploy the cheapest form of renewable energy after onshore wind in Ireland”.

Solar PV Development in Ireland Featured in Solar Business UK

With EU targets to meet and a political will to diversify away from wind, the Irish market has been seen as a potential safe haven for beleaguered UK developers. Nick Holman, director at BNRG Renewables, explains the challenges for deploying solar PV in Ireland.

With the effective shutdown of the UK solar industry in March of this year, many developers and EPCs are looking across the Irish Sea for new opportunities. While Ireland is not renowned for its sunny weather, solar radiation levels are similar to those found in the Midlands and Wales. As such, the rush is on to secure sites and grid capacity in an effort to get first mover advantage despite the fact that a support mechanism is not expected to be introduced before the end of 2016. That support mechanism is likely to be implemented in mid-2017 after it is approved by Brussels under State Aid regulations.

Renewable energy is dominated by onshore wind, which has benefited from a renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT) that is at a level significantly lower to that in the UK. To date, solar has been left out of the REFIT mechanism, primarily due to the perception that there would never be an economic case for solar in cloudy Ireland. This view is changing for a number of reasons.

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BNRG Renewables energises €25m worth of solar projects in the UK

Irish solar company BNRG Renewables has announced it has completed construction and is exporting electricity to the national grid on three utility sized solar PV parks in the United Kingdom, each of 5 Megawatts. The Company developed and constructed the projects Ferry Farm, Manor Farm and Lagness through a joint venture with the Langmead Group and will continue to own and operate projects.

In addition to providing carbon reduction to the tune of 8,000 tonnes per year, the 5 Megawatt projects on a cumulative 85 acres around West Sussex will together produce enough electricity to power over 5,000 homes annually for 30 years.

Conor Grogan, Project Manager at BNRG who was on site to see the first generation being exported on each of the projects described it as ‘a real milestone which took over 18 months to come to this stage’. Responsible for the co-ordination of the project through development and construction, Grogan went on to say that getting numerous and parallel projects to this stage is a testament to each team member at BNRG who developed a superb portfolio.

The main construction contractor was Solarcentury, a London based Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor specialising in solar PV projects. Solarcentury are a leading EPC Contractor in the UK and abroad, and worked very closely with the BNRG team to ensure that the portfolio was delivered to exacting standards. The 60,000 solar PV panels required for the projects were supplied by Tata, a preferred supplier to BNRG. The Company is one of Tata Solar’s largest international clients.

To date BNRG has developed and constructed solar farms with a combined value of over €200 million. They have completed fourteen utility scale solar projects in the UK since 2011, and expect to have two more 5 Megawatt projects constructed and energised by June 2016, one of which will be a community owned scheme.

 

 

 

 

Solar technology deployment could support up to 7,300 jobs for economy

November 24, 2015

A new report from KPMG has found that deploying solar PV technology to power Irish homes and businesses could support up to 7,300 new jobs per year between 2017 and 2030. ‘A Brighter Future – The Potential Benefits of Solar Photovoltaics* (PV) in Ireland’ is published today, 24 November 2015, by KPMG in association with the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The other key findings of the report are:

  • Cost competitiveness: A decrease of 80% in the costs of solar between 2008 and 2013 means solar PV is now affordable renewable energy technology in Ireland and is forecast to become the cheapest electricity generating technology over the coming decades. The total policy support needed to develop a thriving Irish solar sector is estimated at €670 million over the 2017-2030 period, which is equivalent to a 1% increase in domestic retail electricity prices. The economic benefits far outweigh this cost.
  • Security of supply: Solar PV would provide a native source of power, reducing Ireland’s dependency on imported fuels.
  • Environmental targets: Solar PV can be built and put into operation quickly, giving Ireland a better chance of meeting the target to source 40% of electricity from renewables by 2020 and avoiding potential significant fines under UN targets on Climate change, expected to be introduced at next month’s COP21 conference in Paris.
  • Foreign Direct Investment: A thriving domestic solar sector, together with Ireland’s existing strengths in high-tech industries, could make Ireland an attractive location for overseas players in the global solar market looking to establish a European manufacturing base. Multinational corporations with an existing presence in Ireland would also be better placed to source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources if desired.

Commenting on the report, Mike Hayes, Partner and Head of Energy and Natural Resources at KPMG said: ‘There are a wide range of potential benefits to the Irish economy if a policy support scheme for Solar PV was introduced. We know that for every €1 of policy support, the solar industry in Ireland would deliver €3 of Gross Value Added to the economy over the 2017-2030 period.’

Ireland does not currently have a policy mechanism to support Solar PV akin to a Feed in Tariff or Contract for Difference. The Government is currently consulting on future support schemes for renewable technologies following the closure of the REFIT 2 and REFIT 3 schemes, and has indicated that the review could introduce support for a wider range of technologies, including Solar PV.

David Maguire, Chairman of the Irish Solar Energy Association, said: ‘The report outlines a variety of support mechanisms which the Government could use for both rooftop and large scale ground mount deployment – all of which would ensure value for money for Irish energy consumers and taxpayers. Furthermore, because Ireland is one of the last countries in Europe to support solar PV, we have a late mover advantage that gives us the opportunity to learn from the experience of other countries and deploy solar in a sustainable manner that delivers best value to the Irish citizen.’

Cloud is no obstacle to solar energy production in Ireland

BNRG Renewables’ Managing Director, David Maguire, was recently featured on RTE One’s Ear to the Ground at 8:30 pm on Tuesday, November 17th. In tandem with David’s appearance on ETTG, journalist Darragh McCullough wrote a feature on solar in Ireland entitled “Cloud is no obstacle to solar energy production” in the Farming Independent.

First it was wind power, then it was biomass crops, and now it’s solar farms. Energy sector experts claim that Ireland’s wet and cloudy climate is no obstacle to profitable opportunities for both land owners and developers.

Farmers have been offered over €1,000/ac for 25 years by a number of different developers looking to secure the most advantageous sites in advance of the Government publishing its policy on renewable energy in the coming months.

David Maguire is one of the developers, having worked as an environmental scientist with the EPA for many years before co-founding the Dublin-based renewable energy company, BNRG.

He believes that the next 15 years will see up to 10,000 jobs being sustained by solar power projects here.

“We started in 2006 in Greece with two developments, before we developed solar farms in Bulgaria and Britain. We also have plans to develop solar projects in both the Caribbean and Latin America,” he explains.

However, Mr Maguire also has high hopes of developing projects on his home turf, but it’s already becoming a scramble.

“The two main driving forces are the solar resources and the grid connections. In the areas where the resources are high and grid connections low the land grab is already on,” he explains.

“We are an Irish company with 16 out of 23 of our staff based here. It’s an exciting time for us as we hope to finally get working here. But at the moment there is no framework for solar power so we have to start from scratch in terms of planning.”

He believes that Irish farmers should proceed cautiously with any approach.

“Some deals are being offered now that are not realistic. There is no fixed price as the market is fluid. I would be worried about building up hopes that may not be realistic.

“The IFA are right in warning farmers who are being approached regarding land deals as they should make sure these companies have actually produced solar energy.”

But the Howth native is convinced that once a framework is developed, the technology will become quite commonplace in parts of Ireland.

“There is plenty of scope in the country and investors love it because it is a very stable investment, plus it has near 80pc approval from the British public.”

It all sounds good in theory, but as any developer of infrastructure in Ireland knows, the nimby (not-in-my-back-yard) culture is strong, and has probably strengthened on the back of a series of badly worked out projects covering everything from windfarms to pylons.

“One thing we need to do in terms of a legal framework is to facilitate communities to invest in their own energy. We actually used crowdfunding for three projects to allow the local community to be involved, and one of the farms will actually be a 50/50 investment between us and a community project.

BNRG’s man on the ground is another Dubliner, Conor Grogan. He worked on solar projects in Spain before returning home. He admits that solar power is still more expensive to produce than wind, but is convinced that will change over the coming years.

“At the moment it is still expensive to produce energy via solar power but the costs are going down all the time and the efficiency is improving. Compared to wind and biomass it costs more but there are benefits,” he says.

“In terms of getting something operational you can produce power from planning in less than a year compared to six, seven or even eight years from start to finish for many wind projects.

“The fact that there is no movable parts means there is no real maintenance, which also makes it low risk. Pension funds see it as a safe investment.”

Mr Grogan adds that the overall height of the panels at 2.5m means that people can walk past a field hedge without even realising that the panels are in situ.

“They are also modular so they can be fitted to all kinds of surfaces and places. You see more and more of them on the roofs of houses, and that can also suit farmers with sheds. In fact, many see them as a positive image to project about their businesses,” he says.

BNRG are seeing a slow-down in the British market now due to subsidies cuts, but are hopeful of some kind of government support in Ireland coming on stream over the next 12 months, details of which are due to be released soon.

See more when Darragh McCullough visits a €25m UK solar farm on Ear to the Ground at 8.30pm tonight on RTE1

Solar facts

90 minutes, enough sunlight strikes the earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year

35,000 people employed in the British solar industry

Solar power costs up to €150/MWhr, compared with €69 for fossil fuels. However, it is the cheapest source of renewable energy after wind.

Solar panel prices have fallen by 70pc in the last five years

Solar farms installation costs will fall by 21pc by 2018 if import tariffs are lifted on Chinese panels

Indo Farming

BNRG Renewables completes 250kW rooftop Solar PV installation in UK

30 October 2015

Irish solar energy firm BNRG Renewables has completed construction of another successful Solar PV Project in the south of England – the 250kW Solar PV roof mounted installation at the Merston grain store.  Located in West Sussex on a highly efficient agricultural farm, which is part of a large agri-food business, Langmead Farms. This is the latest Solar PV project that BNRG Renewables has successfully commissioned in the UK.  Most of which have been larger scale ground-mounted projects, of up to 27MW in scale.  

In addition to providing reduction in carbon emissions, the project offsets large energy bills for Langmead Farms and provides a hedge against moving energy cost, with a known cost of energy into the future. 

The project will produce 258,867.5kWhs per year, removing 122 Tons of CO2 per year or the equivalent of planting 146.3 acres of forestry for 25 years.

CEO of BNRG Renewables David Maguire said, this project presented a challenge as machinery and equipment had recently been installed on the inside of the roof at the grain store and the whole project had to be carried out without interfering with ongoing farming processes in the new purpose built grain store.

ISEA Submission to the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme – Technology Review – DCENR

ISEA-Submission-DCENR-18-09-2015

In 2014, the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA), through its submission for the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland, made the case for solar energy in Ireland. Now, in ISEA’s submission to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources’ (DCENR) Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, Technology Review Consultation, ISEA has refreshed its recommendations with a greater understanding of the opportunities for the Irish Market.

The key points in this submission are as follows:

  • ISEA believes that between 800 MW and 1,150 MW of installed capacity is realistic by 2020 and 1,900 MW by the end of 2022.
  • The average cost over 25 years to provide a support mechanism for the deployment of 1,900 MW of solar by 2023 is estimated to be €24m per annum.
  • Installation costs for solar farms will fall by 21% between 2015 and 2018, assuming the lifting of the Minimum Import Price on Chinese solar modules.
  • Utility scale (>1 MW) ground-mounted solar farms deployed in 2017 will require revenue/kwh of €0.14 – €0.16, reflecting a level of support equivalent to €0.07 – ­€0.09/kwh.
  • To ensure that the level of support provided to solar accurately reflects conditions in the market, a competitive auction for utility-scale solar is recommended from day one.
  • A Contracts for Difference based support mechanism is recommended with a dedicated budget reserved for Solar until 2020.
  • Roof-mounted schemes should be eligible for a generation tariff based support mechanism (ReFiT or equivalent). The required generation tariff ranges from €0.095/kwh for large commercial rooftops to €0.15/kwh for domestic rooftop schemes in 2017, declining in subsequent years.

extract from the Executive Summary

ISEA Submission to the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme – Technology Review – DCENR

Energising the industry – Renewable Energy Professional Women’s Forum at REFF 2014

The inaugural Renewable Energy – Professional Women’s Forum will take place on September 22. One day before the European Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF Europe).

Dublin City Hall is the venue for the event which will bring together industry leaders to discuss trends and developments in the marketplace during its first panel session while the second session will be focused on insights into their thinking and experience in a relaxed and informal environment.

The Professional Women’s Forum will precede REFF Europe that will be hosted by Dublin for the first time on September 23-24. REFF Europe is the region’s largest and most established event for renewable energy finance and investment.

Renewable Energy, Professional Women’s Forum is a new initiative that provides an outstanding opportunity for women (and men) in the renewable industry to get together, exchange views and share professional as well as personal experiences. It also covers current topics that are not going to be discussed on the REFF conference.

For further information and registration please refer to the event’s website: www.redevelopments.eventbrite.ie

BNRG Renewables commences construction on €25m solar project in UK in partnership with Langmead Group

BNRG Renewables has commenced construction of a 15 megawatt solar PV park on Bilsham Farm in West Sussex, UK. In addition to providing significant carbon reduction, this 85 acre, 15 megawatt park will produce enough electricity to power over 4,950 homes for 30 years.

We are constructing the project through a joint venture with the Langmead Group, a market leader in fresh produce in the UK. While BNRG have been developing and constructing projects of this scale since 2007, this is the first project for the new joint venture company. BNRG Langmead will focus on agri-energy projects leveraging the unique knowledge of both Companies.

Conor Grogan, Project Co-ordinator at BNRG, was on site to see the first pile been driven in mid-July and described it as a real milestone. He went on to say that “getting the project to this stage has taken over 12 months and is a testament to each team member at BNRG and the Langmead Group who developed a superb scheme”.

To date BNRG has developed and constructed solar farms with a combined value of over €170 million. They have completed eleven utility scale solar projects in the UK since 2011. The Company is proud of its 100% track record in securing planning permissions, which has established BNRG as a market leader in the solar sector.

The Langmead Group is a leading producer of fresh produce into UK retailers and food service and has been keen to be involved in the renewable energy space for some time. According to Graham Leech, Chief Operating Officer, ‘The Langmead Group paired up with BNRG last year both to diversify its investments and to strengthen its ongoing commitment to sustainability’. The company farms some 2,500 hectares in West Sussex, Scotland and Suffolk and Spain.
The main construction contractor is Cofely Fabricom a Belgium Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor specialising in solar PV projects. Cofely Fabricom is a wholly owned subsidiary of GDF Suez, the French Utility. This is the first project that they have constructed in the UK and they have worked very closely with the BNRG team to ensure that the project is delivered to exacting standards and in compliance with UK construction grid connection regulations.

Eric Rosier, Managing Director at Cofely Fabricom, stated ‘this is a first of its kind project for us and we are very excited to be doing it in close partnership with BNRG Renewables and the Langmead Group’. The 60,000 solar PV modules required for the project are being supplied by Renesola, a preferred supplier to BNRG.

Director at BNRG, Nick Holman, said the company is excited to see the first BNRG Langmead project being realised and believe it will be the first of many as the Company lines up a number of similar projects across the UK and Europe for construction in 2015 and beyond. Holman placed considerable emphasis on the unique skill sets of the two companies that make a strong foundation to a growing agri-energy business going forward and highlighted the fact that the company would be expanding its product portfolio to include solar solutions for agricultural rooftops such as grain stores and pack houses, alongside other renewable energy technologies.

BNRG recently received planning approval for the first utility scale solar PV plan on the Island of Ireland near Downpatrick, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

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