Northern Ireland’s NI Water has installed 24,000 solar panels to complete a £7 million ($9.5 million) 4.99 MWp solar farm, turning what was a green field into a green power station. The solar farm will produce enough electricity to supply the power needs of one of Northern Ireland’s largest treatment plants - Dunore Water Treatment Works in South Antrim.
This project involved work on a 33 acre site on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh and is expected to save over £500,000 ($678,000) annually in energy costs for the company.
As well as meeting the energy needs of the Dunore WTW, the project will also enable the company to contribute spare capacity to the grid.
Commenting on the completion of the project, the company’s CEO Sara Venning, said, “As the largest user of electricity in Northern Ireland, we are committed to finding innovative renewable energy projects to reduce our expenditure on power, which has already tumbled by £5 million over the last three years. The Dunore solar farm is a major step toward reaching our goal of increasing electricity consumption from renewable sources from the current 13 percent to 40 percent by 2021.”
Leo Martin, GRAHAM, Civil Engineering Managing Director, added,“GRAHAM is delighted to have completed this major project for NI Water. It’s an impressive achievement, with 24,000 solar panels now helping to provide a peak output of 4.99 megawatts, with spare capacity going to the grid.”
As part of an engagement project with the local community during the construction phase of the contract, NI Water organized a competition with local schools, challenging them to “Save Water & Save Energy” for their local treatment plant.
NI Water is the province’s largest user of electricity and Dunore is its third largest site in terms of energy consumption accounting for 7 percent of the company’s annual usage.
Photo: NI Water CEO Sara Venning with Leo Martin, GRAHAM, Civil Engineering