Solar Farm AIB
AIB Group announces use of 21.4GWh solar farms for renewable electricity demand. Image: AIB.

The Allied Irish Banks (AIB) Group has announced it will purchase renewable energy from a purpose-built solar farm in County Wexford.

The solar facility based in Gorey, Country Wexford in Ireland, went live earlier this month, and a second farm, which will also contribute to the firm’s electricity usage and is based in Enniscorthy, is due to come online in the coming months.

The annual energy generated from these two solar farms, estimated at 24.1GWh, is expected to create additional solar capacity for the national grid and ensure up to 80% of AIB’s estimated electricity needs.

This move comes after AIB signed a virtual Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (vCPPA) in 2022 with NTR, a renewable energy project developer, to source energy generated from two solar farms in County Wexford, which NTR has now constructed.

AIB CEO Colin Hunt said: “We are delighted to see our partnership with NTR now delivering solar energy from a fully traceable renewable energy source and look forward to more solar energy coming on stream in coming months.

“The CPPA is in line with government policy to harness additional private sector investment in renewable energy technologies in Ireland, to ensure the security of renewable energy supply and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we collectively seek to protect our people, our planet and our prosperity from the negative impacts of climate change.’’

Irish solar growth

Ireland has been steadily growing a significant solar portfolio for many years and is continuing to make strides in the sector.

Just this month (February), the Distribution System Operator (DSO) ESB Networks confirmed it had connected 1GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) to Ireland’s electricity network.

According to the DSO, this figure comprises 500MW of utility-scale solar connections – including 369MW connected to the transmission system, which is managed by EirGrid – 300MW of microgeneration, such as rooftop solar, and 200MW of non-exporting solar generation.

It seems this increase in solar will be necessary, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published a report which found that Ireland has the highest electricity demand growth rate in Europe, with solar capacity growing.

Ireland has seen its electricity demand rise by 2%, making it one of the few countries in Europe to record an increase in 2023. Across the year, a 17% fall year-on-year (YoY) was recorded for coal generation alongside a modest decline in gas-fired output of 1.2%.

Solar Power Portal’s publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 4-5 June 2024 in London. The event will explore UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market, and much more. For more information, go to the website.