MSD Ireland, ESB launches the ‘largest self-generation solar project’ in Ireland. Image: MSD.

Pharmaceutical group MSD Ireland and state-owned Irish electric utility ESB have launched Ireland’s “largest self-generation solar project” at Ballydine, County Tipperary.

According to the two firms, the project is Ireland’s largest self-generation solar project boasting a 7.3MW ground mounted solar PV array able to generate an estimated 7.9GWh of clean renewable electricity annually for the MSD site.

In doing so, 20% of the site’s energy requirements are now coming from a renewable energy source leading to deeper decarbonisation of MSD’s operations. The site develops and supplies the active ingredients and final formulated product for a range of medicines at its manufacturing and research and development facilities.

“At MSD Ireland, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our new solar project at Ballydine, which is now providing us with a sustainable source of energy and helping us to meet our climate goals here in Ireland,” said Mairead McCaul, managing director of MSD Human Health and head of MSD Ireland Country Leadership Team.

“Our company, both globally and across Ireland, is fully committed to improving our sustainability and environmental performance, in line with global manufacturing aspirations, while continuously challenging ourselves to do more and do better. This new project at MSD Ballydine is supporting MSD Ireland in our commitment to ensuring that in everything we do, we’re making a difference.”

In order to develop the solar project, ESB provided a turnkey service. ESB also provided the up-front capital required to build, operate and maintain the solar system whereas MSD is expected to pay for the power generated via a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The project will help Ireland in reaching its 2030 renewable electricity generation target of 80%, said ESB in its Net Zero by 2040 strategy.

“Through our £64.9 million (€75 million) Smart Energy Services Fund, we are helping organisations such as MSD Ireland deliver critical energy solutions that deliver significant financial and environmental benefits,” said Pat Fenlon, executive director of Customer Solutions at ESB.

“Delivering Ireland’s largest behind-the-meter solar project is another milestone for our business division, and we are proud to work with MSD Ireland on their ambitious sustainability efforts.”

This is the latest development by ESB in expanding its renewable portfolio and supporting the Irish transition to net zero emissions. In mid-July ESB opened a 19MW/38MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) in Aghada, County Cork, provided by system integrator Fluence.

The fast-acting BESS will help provide grid stability and integrate more renewable resources on Ireland’s electricity system and is situated at the same site as the utility's Aghada 708MW gas plant.

ESB also collaborated with Fluence to develop two new battery projects in Dublin. The 75MW/150MWh battery in Poolbeg is to be the EU’s largest battery energy storage system (BESS) project by energy capacity, the companies said. A second 30MW/60MWh asset is also to be developed at South Wall, with both batteries to be developed at existing ESB plants.

The state-owned utility firm has also been exploring potential other low-carbon technologies to support Ireland’s renewable sector. This led to a recent joint venture with energy storage firm dCarbonX to integrate large-scale energy storage projects off the coast of Ireland which could include green hydrogen utilisation.

The joint venture will focus on three specific green hydrogen storage opportunities based around proposed decarbonisation clusters. These are situated east of Dublin’s Poolbeg, west of ESB’s Green Atlantic at Moneypoint project and south of Aghada in Cork, also known as Project Kestrel.