The way has been cleared for construction to begin on a new €8 million solar farm on the outskirts of Tullamore.
Offaly County Council granted planning approval on July 30 to Elgin Energy Services Ltd for the development of a major solar farm on a 17.7 hectare site at Ballyduff, Tullamore, just to the east of the Clara Road.
It's understood large numbers of photovoltaic solar panels will be mounted on steel frames in rows, standing eight feet high in three separate fields on the extensive local site as part of the so-called Tullamore Solar Farm.
In a statement, Dublin-based Elgin Energy Services Ltd said: "The panels will be fixed in position and arranged in south facing rows absorbing sunlight. Existing field boundaries will not be disturbed and mature hedgerows will provide generous screening for the site.
Elgin Energy has contacted those neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the site and has offered to answer any queries which might arise”.
“The proposed project will help contribute to the national target of achieving 40% of all our electricity from renewable sources by 2020,” the statement continued.
It’s understood the development will bring only a small amount of jobs with it, mainly in the construction/erection phase, and these type of renewable energy projects need minimal management once they come on stream.
A ten year permission was sought and granted by the local authority to construct the solar farm development, thought to be the first of its kind in Tullamore. Elgin Energy is an Irish solar energy company based in Dublin which has successfully delivered 250MW of green energy across 24 projects in the UK and Ireland. It has a further 750MW of projects at various stages of planning and development.
Although Ireland is not known for long hours of sunshine, it is actually the visible light that drives Photovoltaic (PV cells), according to the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA). Therefore the level of light and brightness of the day is the key thing.
Explaining how a solar farm actually works, an ISEA leaflte explained: When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. The more intense the light is, the greater the flow of electricity. Solar cells can be wired together to form a module (a solar panel) and these can then be connected together to form an array”.