ESB has made a €2.5 million investment in utility-scale solar developer Terra Solar in an effort to “accelerate the development of solar energy generation in Ireland”.

ESB Group has said the move has the potential to see more than 260MW of generation capacity brought forward in the country.

ESB has described Terra Solar as “one of the most advanced” solar developers in Ireland, and the company was earlier this year linked with a €60 million development in solar in Clare and Kerry counties.

Cera Slevin, manager of solar and storage for generation and wholesale markets at ESB, said Ireland was “at an inflection point” for solar generation and that ESB had highlighted the technology as a strategic growth area.

“This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable resources. And a decarbonising electricity system can also help take oil out of the wider economy, particularly through electrification of the heat and transport sectors,” she added.

Earlier this year ESB announced its intention to develop its own solar farms through its Asset Development division in order to decarbonise its generation portfolio, and sought to partner with five “suitably qualified” suppliers to be appointed to an EPC framework for an initial term of three years.

It remains unclear precisely what stake ESB has taken in Terra Solar, but the state-owned utility has confirmed it to be a significant minority shareholding.

Terra Solar was founded by David Fewer and Andre Fernon and is currently working on plans to deploy solar farms in Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.

Fewer and Fernon said the investment acted as a “vote of confidence” in both Terra Solar and the future of Ireland’s solar market.

“The funding provided by this investment will enable us to accelerate the development of our sites in Munster and in Wexford over the coming months and years. We are delighted to have ESB as a strategic investor and partner in the business,” they said in a joint statement.

Anticipation of the Irish market is continuing to increase as the Irish government prepares to unveil its plans for a subsidy regime supporting renewables, the details of which are now expected to be released early next year.

Last week Ireland’s energy regulator the Commission for Energy Regulation confirmed its intent to free up capacity on the grid by allowing projects with a grid connection agreement which have become stranded in the queue to withdraw and receive a partial reimbursement, allowing other projects – particularly solar-and-storage projects – to take their place.