UK renewables developer Golden Square Energy has made its first play for the nascent Irish solar market after partnering with native developers Solas Éireann.
Solas Éireann has been active in the Irish market since October 2014 and has pledged to commit more than €100 million to solar development in the country, amassing a pipeline of more than 250MW.
The two companies will form a joint venture which will see Golden Square’s team help complete projects in Solas Éireann’s pipeline, building on the success Golden Square has experienced in the UK market under the Renewables Obligation support framework.
Solas Éireann expects to spend the rest of 2016 adding to its pipeline of utility-scale and commercial rooftop projects and progressing them through planning, legal and EPC tender processes before commencing their build out in 2017.
Simon Maguire, director at Solas Éireann, said that the partnership would “drive forward” solar development in the country and create jobs in local communities.
“Solas Éireann is extremely proud of its Irish heritage and we are excited to be partnering with GSE in our quest to bring solar energy to our country,” Maguire added.
Against a backdrop of diminishing opportunities in the UK market, Ireland has attracted considerable interest and investment. Last year the country’s government confirmed plans to introduce subsidies for solar and other technologies at some point this year, a process which has been held up by elections in the country.
It is believed a Contracts for Difference-styled competitive tender process would be the favoured route to market but there has yet to be any indication as to the size – or quantity – of subsidy on offer.
But with a population of less than 5 million, the market’s size – estimated at around 1GW by 2020 – and the significant interest shown to date has led some within the industry to raise concerns about overcrowding.
Last month’s Clean Energy Summit also heard that the availability of finance and cost of grid connections will pose as significant barriers to solar deployment on the Emerald Isle, leading BNRG managing director David Maguire to conclude: “There’s real hype at the moment around Ireland and a real gold rush, just not a lot of gold at the end of it.”