Energy giants Lightsource Renewable Energy, one of Europe’s leading companies in the solar PV energy sector, has  recently unveiled big plans for the Republic of Ireland.  Between now and 2020, they hope to install enough solar farms to create 1.5GW  of generating capacity at a cost of approximately €500 million across Ireland.  

This influx of clean energy would be enough to power almost half a million Irish homes (over 5% of Ireland’s total energy needs) – a substantial investment considering Lightsource Ireland already boasts that it generates enough clean energy to provide electricity for more than 330,000 Irish households.

Lightsource is considered the UK’s leading solar energy company and one of the top 10 on the world stage, with 350 full-time employees on their books as well as numerous part-time and ad-hoc employees. They have two offices based in England, with a further three offices located in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Irish government has estimated that a total of 27% of Ireland’s energy needs will need to come from renewable sources such as solar energy, hydropower and wind farms by the year 2030.  It is estimated that just under 8% of Ireland’s energy is generated from such renewable sources currently, half way to the 16% target for 2020 which was established by the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive.

Whilst improving economic circumstances have improved the willingness of Irish people to invest in renewable energies such as PV solar, progress has been somewhat disappointing.  However, help from companies such as Lightsource could prove vital in bridging the gap between Ireland’s current levels of renewable energy use and its long-term goals with regard to sustainable energy consumption.

The Irish government is expected to publish their newest Energy Policy for 2015-2030 in the coming weeks. The Lightsource announcement will no doubt give their plans a much needed boost. Perhaps best of all for the Irish government though, is the fact that the proposed PV solar energy farm development will come at no cost to the Irish state – quite the opposite in fact. Lightsource Ireland has confirmed that it will be bearing the brunt of all financial costs related to solar farms’ construction and maintenance. The employment of Irish labourers as well as the use of regionally sourced materials and local supply chain will also provide an ongoing economic boost.

Lightsource ‘s CEO Nick Boyle (originally from County Antrim, Northern Ireland) had the following to say about the economic implications of the project: “Any risks associated with the development of these solar projects, including installation costs, will be borne by Lightsource. This commitment will not only add to sustainable electricity generation in Ireland, it will also strengthen the local economy and supply chain….It really is a win-win for local communities”

Lightsource’s announcement is a timely one not only in terms of the Irish Government’s upcoming Economic Policy 2015-2030, but also in relation to the European Union, which plans to unveil revised renewable energy targets for all of its member states between now and the beginning of 2016.  

The EU are by no means alone in their ongoing drive toward further embracing sustainable and renewable energy sources. Earlier this month President Barack Obama finally published his Clean Power Plan (CPP), an unprecedented signal of intent for the United States of America in relation to renewable energy, amid much opposition from his usual antagonists but also great optimism from some of the world’s leading companies.

As the Republic of Ireland is still reeling from the worst recession it has experienced in decades, more and more of its citizens than ever are turning to solar power as a sustainable and financially viable solution to their energy needs.  As economic uncertainty begins to dissipate and optimism grows, companies such as Lightforce are seizing upon this great opportunity to invest in solar power and PV technology in Ireland.