Belfast set for largest UK airport solar project

Belfast International Airport will receive power from a 4.84MWp off-site solar farm developed by Lightsource Renewable Energy in what is the UK's largest airport Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) solar project.

The 25-year deal with Lightsource will see the solar farm deliver 27% of the airport’s annual electricity via a hardwire directly into the Airport’s power network.

With no requirement to connect to the national grid, the project will provide the Airport with a vast energy reduction – a total 2,345 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Belfast International Airport operations director Alan Whiteside  says the airport is “breaking new ground” with the venture. “Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply,” Whiteside said.

“This solar farm has the capability to supply all our electricity demands on a peak summer day, and still export via the airport’s internal HV ring to the NI Grid. Lightsource have been extremely professional throughout the process, working closely with the airport’s M&E Projects Supervisor, Colin Sloan, to bring this project to fruition.”

Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle echoed these sentiments, claiming that large-scale PPA solar projects provide businesses with an opportunity to “fix their energy costs without the need for upfront investment”.

He said: “We’re very excited to be able to announce the PPA project at Belfast International Airport. There remains huge opportunity for solar energy around the UK and Ireland. Industries around the world have a growing appetite for reliable renewable technologies that help them gain control of spiralling energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Solarcentury developments

The news follows on from yesterday’s announcement by fellow solar farm developer Solarcentury that it has connected 140MW of large-scale solar farms in the past 12 months, ahead of the early closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme

Solarcentury said that some of these systems are already connected to the grid and the remainder will be connected by the end of the month, adding that the burst of new development meant Solarcentry has now constructed close to 600MWp of UK ground-mount sites in recent years.

Solarcentury European commercial director Tim Rose commented: “We are continuing to work with a wide range of clients for our sizeable ground-mount business in the UK. Securing this amount of ground-mounted solar is impressive given the uncertainties created by the government’s sudden policy changes.”

RO deadline

edie has reported on a flurry of solar projects built just in time for the RO deadline, following the Government’s controversial move to end RO subsidy support for new solar projects from the end of this month.

Yesterday, energy efficiency solutions provider Anesco announced the completion of two battery-connected collar farms that will generate a combined total of 8,696MWh of electricity – enough to power the equivalent of more than 2,600 homes. And earlier in the week, developers of a new solar farm in Hampshire warned the site may be the last utility-scale solar park built in the UK for some time, due to impending subsidy changes.

George Ogleby

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