Lightsource has connected what is claimed to be Northern Ireland’s first utility-scale solar farm near Belfast International Airport.

The 4.83MW project is located on land at Crookedstone Road in Antrim and is wired directly into the airport’s private electricity network.

The airport has signed a 25-year PPA with Lightsource and the installation is expected to supply around one-quarter (27%) of its annual demand.

Lightsource also lauded the benefit the development has had on the local area with the total investment in the local economy estimated to be in excess of £5 million. Local contractors were used throughout its development and Lightsource worked closely with ecologists to ensure the farm will increase biodiversity levels.

A tailored environmental plan was put together for the array comprising native hedgerows, wildflowers and bird and bat nesting boxes around the site.

Nick Boyle, chief executive at Lightsource, said that the development represented an important milestone for the company and was an example of the opportunity solar presented the entire island.

“The unique quality of solar power is that it is scalable and can be deployed very quickly and efficiently, as demonstrated by this project. This is the new world of electricity supply, which we are calling the solar revolution. Energy intensive businesses can now choose to procure solar electricity with no hassle, and Lightsource remains at the forefront of this exciting paradigm shift,” he said.

Lightsource has been a long-term admirer of the nascent Irish solar market having last year pledged to invest as much as €500 million (£353.6 million) to establish itself as a leading player as Ireland opens up to utility-scale PV.