Subsidy deal spurs Amarenco plans to build 11 solar farms

John Mullins of Amarenco. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
John Mullins of Amarenco. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Former Bord Gáis chief John Mullins’s renewable energy business Amarenco is pressing ahead with plans to build 11 solar farms here.

The proposals had been on hold pending the outcome of Government deliberations on a subsidy scheme for renewable electricity.

The scheme was published earlier this week, and on foot of the details in it Mr Mullins has decided to commence preparations for construction.

“The announcement by Minister Naughten is very welcome and now brings Ireland in line with most other European Union nations in terms of an official recognition of solar energy, which is the fastest growing renewable energy sector on the planet,” Mr Mullins said.

“Amarenco has been calling for this support for some considerable time and we will now commence our preparatory work for the installation of solar farms to provide Ireland’s electricity grid with much needed clean electricity.

“We expect to have our first solar farm operational by end 2019.” The company said it expects to invest €70m in the 11 solar farms.

It said 250 jobs will be created during the construction phase, with 10 permanent jobs once the farms are operational.

The company said the normal build-out of the farms it wants to construct takes three months, adding that it continues to apply for further solar farm installation in Ireland.

Amarenco is one of many companies active in the sector here – with an explosion of interest since 2015. Analysis carried out last year by PHR, a planning and research consultancy, showed 225 planning applications for solar farms were made between June 2015 and the beginning of August 2017. Zero applications were in the system before then. The boost has been fuelled by a fall in the cost of solar technology.

PHR provides market intelligence on a variety of sectors including renewable energy development to clients in the public and private sector.

On Wednesday, Ireland’s climate change advisory council said the country was completely off course to achieve its 2020 and 2030 climate-change targets.

“Instead of achieving the required one million tonnes per annum reduction in carbon dioxide emissions consistent with the National Policy Position, Ireland is increasing emissions at a rate of two million tonnes per year.

“We need immediate and urgent action to put us back onto a pathway to achieve transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy and society,” said council chair John Fitzgerald.

Denis Naughten, the minister responsible for climate action, said he shared the council’s frustration, saying recent economic growth had boosted carbon emissions.

Irish Independent

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