The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, formally opened the first grid-scale solar project to connect to the national grid under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).
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Millvale solar farm, developed by Neoen, is now delivering electricity into the national grid. It is located close to Ashford in Co. Wicklow and has a generation capacity of 8MW.
The farm occupies 25 hectares and has 33,600 solar modules – enough to power approximately 3,600 homes every year and avoiding 4,800 tonnes in CO2 emissions.
This is the first of many solar projects to reach commercial operation under RESS 1 – the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) – and the first of almost 600MW of solar generation capacity secured in the auction. If we also include wind projects, this is actually the third project to reach commercial operation under RESS 1.
Neoen has also secured support, under RESS 1, for two other solar farms – Hilltown and Hortland.
Climate Action Plan 2021 sets out a goal of achieving a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and setting us on a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Key to achieving this is a target to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by the end of this decade.
The plan also projects what the relative proportions of renewable electricity will look like by 2030. It includes projections for up to 8GW of onshore wind capacity (an increase of up to 3.5GW on current connections), at least 5GW of offshore wind capacity and up to 2.5GW of solar (PV) capacity.
Moreover, the recently launched Micro-Generation Support Scheme (MSS) aims to deploy up to 380MW of new generation from renewable self-consumers (including an export payment for all micro-generators).
Substituting wind and solar for fossil fuel electricity generation will also displace emissions in other sectors, for example through the electrification of (car-based) transport and residential heating. ■