AIB to source renewable energy from NTR-owned solar farms. Image: Getty.

Banking firm AIB has signed a corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) with NTR to source energy from two solar farms set to be constructed in County Wexford, Ireland.

In doing so, AIB becomes the “first Irish company to sign such an agreement”, the company claimed, which will enable the firm to source 100% of its power requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Via the two solar farms, 21.4GWh of renewable energy will be distributed to the Irish energy grid helping to drive deeper decarbonisation of the country.

AIB confirmed that the Macallian project's capacity will stand at 15MWp whereas Gorey will be 7MWp. This is a combined total installed capacity of 22MWp. AIB did not respond to Solar Power Portal's request for clarification that the 21.4GWh is an annual figure (which would equate to 58MWh per day) at the time of writing. 

As well as this, the renewable energy will provide up to 80% of AIB’s electricity needs in order to service its retail and office network.

“Sustainability is a key strategic priority for AIB as we seek to help protect our fragile planet from the devastating impact of climate change by reducing our own carbon footprint and helping our customers to do the same,” said Colin Hunt, CEO of AIB.

“We are delighted to partner with NTR on this innovative project to enable two new solar farms to be built in Ireland, guaranteeing that the electricity we use to power AIB’s own operations will be certified to a fully traceable renewable solar energy source.”

The agreement will contribute to the delivery of the Irish Government’s Climate Action Plan which has set a target of 15% of all electricity demand being met by renewable generators contracted under CPPAs by 2030.

NTR has been scaling its solar and wind portfolio across the UK and recently completed a c.£38 million financing deal with Rabobank to support the development of two projects totalling 80MW in renewable energy generation.

The funding had been allocated to the development of two wind and solar projects dubbed Murley Wind Farm and Ockendon Solar Farm, situated in Northern Ireland and London respectively.

“Corporate PPAs such as this are an integral part of the solution to drive the clean energy transition across our European markets, but it is particularly gratifying to sign a PPA in our home market with AIB who is leading the charge for Irish companies in embracing this way to access clean affordable power,” said Rosheen McGuckian, CEO of NTR.

“AIB’s dedication to sustainability is clear, and we’re excited to be partnering with them to help them achieve their vision.”

Solar in Ireland has been growing in popularity in recent years with an emphasis having been placed on wind generation. However, a report released by international advisory firm AFRY In early 2021 indicated that solar growth in Ireland could provide an annual saving of €21 (£18) per citizen.

It modelled three scenarios with different levels of solar and wind, to establish the most effective way of meeting the Government’s target of 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

Within these, the highest solar scenario saw a total €106 million (£91.5 million) annual saving, as there are significant benefits from a diversified portfolio of generation assets.

This solar potential also caught the eye of international developers with Danish solar PV business Obton having announced its intention to double its investment in Irish solar partner Shannon Energy in May 2021.

In doing so, this brought its portfolio and pipeline of projects to a total value of €750 million (£649 million) at the time, with Obton having also increased its ambition to reach 1GW of capacity in Ireland by 2026.