Kildare to become location for Ireland’s first commercial solar farm

Co. Kildare is to become the location for Ireland’s first commercial solar farm.

This follows success in the recent Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auction.

Two sites in Naas and Hortland have received planning permission after an application to Kildare County Council.

The solar farms will be built by BNRG Renewables, an Irish firm based in Co. Dublin. The development at Hortland will consist of a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic farm to generate renewable electricity on a 13.6ha site. The farm in Naas will have a total site area of 7.79ha. 

Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan told AgriLand that this will be “very beneficial for the country in many ways”.

However, he said that who owns these developments and how they connect into the family farm structure he envisions for the future “is an issue”.

“I think community ownership is particularly well suited for solar in the field because the scale isn’t so huge and it is relatively low-risk and, [if] you can get a whole community to invest collectively, it allows people to get entry to it,” he explained, in an interview held at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

“For the next few auctions, we want 100 of those community-type projects all over the country and we’ll do everything we can to support it.

“We won’t say no to other developments because other developers are doing a good job but we want a much larger involvement of community organisations.

It has to be sensitively done. I think there’s a limit to how much wind we can get onshore; I think the really big development coming is in solar and in offshore wind.

“We’ll have to see how it works because we’re only starting, but it’s [solar] up off the land so you still have potential grazing and it doesn’t disturb the land, there’s no emissions or pollution, it is something we can integrate into a landscape – but we have to do it sensitively and we need community ownership.”