The UK’s largest solar developer, Lightsource Renewable Energy, is exploring the possibility of installing two solar farms in Northern Ireland.

The London-based developer has singled out two sites for proposed 4.9MW developments; a brownfield site in Downpatrick and land near Lisburn.

Lightsource has commissioned SLR Consulting to carry out a series of technical planning assessments in support of the proposals.

Conor McGuigan, director of business development for Lightsource explained that because the two sites are the company’s first solar projects in Northern Ireland, local expertise was important. He continued: “In all our developments we have to ensure that the land area is well sited for a solar farm and that it will not have an adverse impact on the environment.”

SLR technical director Tim Malim added that the studies have revealed that “there is little to prevent these solar energy developments receiving permission”.

The two provisional projects represent an interesting expansion of utility-scale solar in the UK which has been traditionally focussed in the South of England. Lightsource expects the proposed 9.8MW of new capacity to generate enough electricity to power 3,000 local homes – a rate similar to solar farms installed in the Midlands.

Large-scale solar in the UK is set to have a record quarter with NPD Solarbuzz predicting that the sector has a 2.5GW pipeline of projects in the run-up to the change in Renewable Obligation in April 2014.