ESB and Harmony Solar to invest €30 million in Irish solar projects
Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

The partnership will see the development of over 1,000MW of ground-mounted solar projects in the space of 10 years with further investment planned in the medium to long term.

With an increase in the carbon tax coming into effect recently, it’s clear that more needs to be done if Ireland wants to secure a reliable low-carbon energy future.

At the moment over 30% of Ireland’s electricity is produced from renewable resources, the bulk of which is generated through wind energy on wind farms across the country.

A recent partnership between the ESB and Irish renewable energy company, Harmony Solar, is a step in the right direction though and will help significantly with adding to the output of solar energy on Irish soil, not to mention the mix of renewables generated here.

So what's new?

Who is Harmony Solar?

Harmony Solar Ireland Limited is a Wexford-based renewable energy company. It's Irish-owned, funded and managed and was established in 2016 by a team of Irish renewable energy entrepreneurs. 

The company’s management team has a strong track record in the renewable energy sector, especially solar energy, as well as large infrastructure projects.

What’s happening?

The recent deal brokered between the ESB and Harmony Solar will see an initial capital investment of €30 million to develop a number of ground-mounted solar projects in Ireland.

The deal could potentially see over 1,000MW of large-scale solar projects developed by the year 2030, enough to power more than 230,000 homes - that’s over 10% of Irish households.

The first phase of the project will be aimed at developing Harmony Solar’s existing 300MW portfolio in parts of Wexford and Kildare, with other phases on track to help achieve its 2030 goal.

Executive Director, ESB Generation and Trading, Jim Dollard said:

“In ESB, we are committed to a future where low carbon electricity powers a low carbon society. We already have an established position in the solar market in Ireland, with both ground-mounted and rooftop solar projects under development. This agreement with Harmony Solar represents another significant milestone, bolstering the company’s solar portfolio and our wider ambition in developing renewable electricity generation projects of scale.

"Currently in Ireland, renewable energy is predominantly generated from onshore wind. This partnership is in line with the Irish government’s policy to introduce more diversity into the country’s renewable energy portfolio, through the promotion of other technologies including solar. The agreement will enhance Ireland’s ability to reach future renewable energy targets and contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 360,000 tonnes per year when the development pipeline is fully operational.”

Why solar?

At the moment in Ireland the majority of renewable electricity is generated through onshore wind farms but there is a commitment from the government to try diversify our renewable energy portfolio over the coming years.

This latest deal brokered between the ESB and Harmony Solar will help greatly in achieving this change, with the potential to power over 10% of the country's homes through solar alone.

Solar energy is also a cornerstone of the ESB’s Brighter Energy Future strategy which looks to expand the portfolio of renewables in Ireland, including solar power, and this latest announcement is a big step in the right direction.

As we try to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels a greater mix of renewables will become increasingly important for our electricity generation as sometimes not all forms of renewable energy are productive enough at certain times. Wind output, for example, tends to plummet on warm, clear, sunny summer days - which is when solar energy will come in handy of course. 

And the good thing about Ireland is that we have enough light, particularly from April to September, to make solar energy effective here as solar energy is generated through light energy, not heat from the sun, meaning it can work even on cloudy days. 

With more solar energy in the mix to support the other renewables already generating power, this latest development will significantly help us to reach our renewable energy targets for 2030.

Investing in solar energy

Advancements in and the resulting benefits of solar electricity generation are not limited to those like the ESB who invest in large scale projects, homeowners can get in on the action, too.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) provides a number of different grants for those looking to upgrade their homes. These grants include funding for solar panels which could help you generate your own electricity, thus saving you money on your bills into the future.

Under the Solar PV scheme, available through the SEAI, homeowners can currently avail of a grant of up to €3,800 to install solar electricity panels on their roofs to generate their own renewable energy.

The SEAI estimates that, on average, a solar PV system can save a household between €200-€300 a year on their electricity bills once the initial cost has been paid off.

Want to find out more about what’s coming down the line by way of advancements in energy over the next 10 years? Check out our guide to Energy 2020 - 2030 for more information.

Let’s hear from you

Do you have any questions about solar energy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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